Smoke on the Water, Group Exhibition Curated by Fieldgate Gallery
A group show investigating themes of surveillance society curated by Fieldgate Gallery. “...we are reduced to an atomized pseudo-community of consumers, our sensibilities dulled by spectacle and repetition.” Grant Kester ‘Conversation Pieces: Community and Community in Modern Art (2004)’ It appears everybody is watching, or being watched, or wants to be watched. Whether it is reality TV, CCTV, YouTube, there is a sense that life, however banal, is increasingly out there, somewhere else, deferred. As Guy Debord states in Society of the Spectacle; ‘this society which eliminates geographical distance reproduces distance internally as spectacular separation.’ Domestically, as this form of escapism becomes increasingly ocular, pleasure has become voyeuristic, while escapism itself is now an aspiration to a state of being, further increasing our sense of displacement and separation. Smoke on the Water is the title of the Deep Purple rock classic that describes an event of a fire destroying a music festival. Encompassed here is the full thrill of spectacle, the illusion of escapism, and the hangover of its aftermath, in pure Spinal Tap iconography. The title also suggests an opening scene to a Romantic journey that takes the participant to an unknown elsewhere, of sublime possibility. It evokes theatrical illusions and cinematic narratives from ‘Apocalypse Now’ to ‘Spirited Away’. Yet the song’s intimation of failure and catastrophe, set against its pulsating rhythm, is analogous to the sense of disappointment, which lies at the kernel of all spectacle. Before its artifice collapses spectacle needs to be mesmeric to succeed, but collapse it will, and it is this space that the exhibition reveals. Consequently, much of the work has an undercurrent of pathos and looks behind the adrenalin rush, to address the dystopia of the hangover and expose some of the structures of its artifice. Our desire, or need, for spectacle seems here to stay, with ever- heightened technological intensity, so this exhibition, like the Vauxhall Gardens at the beginning of the 19th Century with its pools of artificial light, aims to take you on a walk of contemporary equivalences.
Richard Ducker, 2011.
Featuring Stuart Croft Alice Anderson Tom Dale Gibson/Martelli (Igloo) Hund & Horn Paul O'Kane