Channel Synthesis calls up earlier explorations of these concerns, including the experimental installations at Peggy Guggenheim’s first New York gallery The Art of This Century in the 1940s and artist Max Ernst’s thinking when he elucidated in a 1961 interview for BBC television show ‘Monitor’:
“Seeing usually means that you open your eyes to the outside world. It is possible to see another way; you close your eyes and you look into your ‘inner world’. I believe the best thing to do is to have one eye closed and you look inside: this is the inner eye. With the other eye, you have it fixed on reality and what is going on around you in the world. If you can make a synthesis of these two important worlds you come to result in what can be considered as the synthesis of objective and subjective life.“ – Max Ernst
The artist occupies a strange position perpetually caught between external representation and introspective process. The production of artwork relies on this dualism and requires an open channel between the exterior world and internal perspective. In the paintings here, referential elements become contorted and amalgamated into the flow of subconscious signifiers via this channel. From there, they fuse together into an alternative reflection of things. In Channel Synthesis, by being able to step into the frame of the image exhibited at floor level, the viewer physically inhabits the painting in a parallel of this process.
Walking over twenty-seven paintings you are invited to experience an unconventional mode of viewing. The installation relocates the paintings from the walls of the gallery and playfully places them underfoot to subvert the established hierarchies of viewing painting conventionally. Summoning the trope of the dance-floor, the entire installation functions as an interactive canvas that shapes how the body navigates each painting and the space as a whole.
Interspersed throughout the floor, serpentine sculptures extend the installation into the physical space of the gallery, connecting the flat level of the paintings with the volumetric realm inhabited by the viewer’s body. These stylised ‘serpents’, which also appear throughout the paintings, symbolise the vital channel and flow between external stimulation and creative introspection, offering up possibilities ‘to see another way’.
Laurence Owen (b. in Gloucester 1984) attended Royal Academy Schools London 2012-15 (E Vincent Harris Painting Prize 2014). Previous exhibitions include In The Darkest Hour There May Be Light (Damien Hirst’s Murderme Collection), Serpentine Gallery 2006; Caustic Coastal / Rogue Studio Space Manchester 2012; Studio_Leigh, Studio_Leigh Gallery 2015; Chimp Cracks Nut With Rock…, Kennington Residency 2015; Suspended Fruit, C4RD 2016. Solo shows include The Gold Book, 20 Hoxton Square Projects 2009, Laurence Owen & Vivien Zhang (two person), Rook & Raven 2015.