Sunday, 7 August 2011

Constellations – The Cornerhouse, Manchester

I arrive in the landscape of Takahiro Iwasaki where on an antique side table a tree and pagoda raise from a pair of balled of socks. This serves as a kind of introduction to his world where the everyday landscape of pylons and poles are delicately recreated using everyday materials of socks and towels. In this reconfiguration of what makes up the world he is asking us to revaluate the nature of the world. By creating landscapes from the threads from socks, pencil leads and even dust, objects which have a high level of in built obsolescence Iwasaki is pointing out the world we exist in isn't as permanent as we think, or hope. Everything from buildings, trees and mountains only appear to be permanent to our mortal eyes, it's also a confirmation of how this way of seeing the world somehow ensures that we can see the beauty in the 'mundane'.

As I stomp around like a curious Godzilla occasionally squatting (maybe an attempt to gain access to the landscapes) I find myself oddly comforted to be surrounded by this other little world, perhaps part of our fascination with any miniature world is a direct connection with childhood hours spent on the floor recreating the world through play.

In the middle of this is Kitty Kraus's Untitled I've missed the process of the melting ice (or ink) cube which created the blob spread across the floor. Seeing it in this state, alongside Iwasaki's pieces I can't help but see it as a landmass, the homeland of Iwasaki's telegraph poles lit by a permanent sunrise of a light bulb.

Throughout my travels in Iwasaki's landscape has been sound tracked by a familiar tune falling through the ceiling. It radiates from Katie Paterson's Earth-Moon-Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) one of the pieces I wanted to experience. First I have to step over 100 Billion Suns, thousands of pieces of confetti each representing a gamma ray burst ( forming a pretty mess on the gallery floor. These are the evidence of an event that takes place every day (a confetti cannon is fired daily) on a cosmological and human level both are events which I have never witnessed but I believe that they have happened are happening. The little dots could equally be records of people falling in love, another event I have to take on faith. In any case it's a playful way of connecting you with the mind bogglingly terrifying activity of the universe.

Of course through all this a player piano has been playing its haunting melody mainly to me, as there's no one else around. In some kind of poetic experiment Paterson has reflected Moonlight Sonata off the surface of the Moon. The sonata is transformed by its half a million mile round trip and has been affected by the nature of the surface of the Moon itself, it's hard not to make a parallel between its journey and the experience of the Apollo astronauts both have been affected by our closest neighbour in ways we don't quite understand. Instead of wandering around the gallery space I decide to sit and listen, the music begins to disintegrate, mutate the original's melancholia reinforced by the increasing gaps and the background hiss of static (itself an echo of the Big Bang)

As I sit there listening to the final hesitant notes fade into the static it fills the gallery space and this space never felt so huge, I am almost aware of the size of the universe, aware of a sense of entropy, that can never make it to the end of the universe instead my energy will be absorbed back into. It's an almost heart-breaking, romantic moment in a sense Paterson's work seems to allow me to reinvest our technologic advances with a sense of romance. My deep space daydream is broken by the appearance of a bloke who looks around unimpressed then leaves.

Soon after that I leave, people arrive the world keeps spinning.

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