Saturday 26 June 2010 until Sunday 8 August 2010

NARCISSUS TRANCE

The present is always invisible because it’s environmental and saturates the whole field of attention so overwhelmingly; thus everyone but the artist, the man of integral awareness, is alive in an earlier day… Because inherent in the artists creative inspiration is the process of subliminally sniffing out environmental change. It’s always been the artist who perceives the alterations in man caused by a new medium, who recognizes the that future is the present, and uses his work to prepare the ground for it.”  Marshall McLuhan, March 1969

The exhibition explores McLuhan’s premise that the technological dynamics of the present are concealed from human perception via an innate protective mechanism he defined as the Narcissus Trance. A process that anaesthetises the nervous system in order to allow technological media to merge with the mind. During the advent of consumer electronics, McLuhan warned that the new dawning age of instantaneity would produce an accelerated phase of transition that would lead ultimately to ‘pain and identity loss’ in humanity as the nervous system struggled to compensate for an ever increasing rate of change. He believed the only hope for the future given this predicament was to break the feedback loop imposed by the trance, and instead access technological media through a state of active conscious awareness. Within his ambition he proposed artists to be the instigators of this mass shift in perception.

Reading McLuhan forty years later, when human DNA is now being shorthanded as ‘software’ and the internet is deemed as important as electricity, his warning still rings clear. Although many of the artist practices put forward by the exhibition make use of technology on a habitual basis, their work is a result of processes that short circuit the defined functionality of its purpose as a simple tool. It is logical that several of the artists adopt the hypnotic formalisms of the trance itself, almost folding the mechanism back on itself, using the media to push the viewer further inside as if the only way out might be through.  In a world where creative impulses have been eroded by the convenience of our relationship with endless appliances and applications, the artists return to atavistic and heightened perceptual currencies to affect a ‘tuning out’ of this self-fulfilling loop.

Opening night performances by Rose Kallal and Karl O’Connor & Mick Harris.