SLIME AND SHINE

24 Mar — 28 Apr 2018

Jana Hawkins-Andersen & Marian Tubbs Hannah Hallam Eames & Samuel Jackson



Photo credit: André Piguet.

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Slime and Shine

Hannah Hallam-Eames & Samuel Jackson
Jana Hawkins-Andersen & Marian Tubbs

Opening Saturday 24 March, 4–6pm
Exhibition Saturday 24 March–Saturday 28 April 2017

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Slime and Shine

Shine is now a black box, and revealing its workings can—to the extent that it is possible—certainly be important, but it is ultimately more crucial to repurpose and reprogram it.
– “Shine and Schein,” E-Flux Journal, #61, January 2015.

The Three Ecologies written by Felix Guattari in 1989 was an attempt to philosophically remedy our understanding of ecology. Within Guattari’s context, industrial capitalism had already illustrated its potential to grow knowledge and advance technology like never before, yet greater inequality and fractures within society emerged alongside. His future-orientated philosophy called for a new way of understanding our world and our place as a part of it by considering ecology through three interchangeable lenses: mind, society and environment, which he viewed as operating within an interconnected and interdependent system. He argued that: “Ecology must stop being associated with the image of a small nature-loving minority. Ecology in my sense questions the whole of subjectivity and capitalistic power formations.” (1) Guattari thought of ecology in an expanded sense and sought to acknowledge and disrupt the power hierarchies embedded in the human psyche. Importantly, this philosophy did not separate nature from culture and required a reorientation of thought around what we value and our social constructs.

Although we are almost thirty years into the future the relevance of Guattari’s philosophy prevails. The situations that he articulates seem to have only become further entrenched within our digital age. If anything, technological advancements have accelerated a form of invisibility that seems to problematise Guattari’s provocations even further. In our twenty-first century techno-capitalist era (2) there is still exploitation and power imbalances, but technology makes them less visible and more algorithmic. (3) Technology has now intensified to a point where it is more opaque and unknown, and this opacity is paired with velocity (4). We live in an age of dark shine: “the dark shine – of auto-productivity and auto-control, with life as data provider and algorithmic feedback loop.” (5) Dark shine places control in the hands of the algorithm and creates power imbalances that we cannot see. The seemingly innocuous notion of likes on social media are churned out by algorithms as data to understand us, using this information to determine our vulnerabilities and desires to effect how we behave (6). Guattari’s ecological philosophy could be extended to our current context–a re-examination that considers mind, society, environment and (now) algorithm as part of an interconnected whole.

These algorithms have been designed to harness the capacity of human desire. In Bodies and Digital Utopia Catherine Bernard asserts, “Within the digital economy, desire is given a privileged place, because it can be rerouted into consumerism.” (7) It’s not surprising then that in the digital age human desire and the need for connection are used as strategies to entice us to consume these technologies and all that they offer us. This desire encourages intimacy; it asks for closeness, like creating a crack that needs to be filled. But, it’s important to consider that the ways in which desire and intimacy are linked in our physical world differs in the digital world. Is intimacy within the digital world organised around a sense of closeness, too? In Iridescence, Intimacies Tavi Meraud suggests, “intimacy organises our experience of space and especially of surfaces.” (8) Our interpretation of our surroundings and of the surfaces that we encounter is organised by our closeness to them, however this seems complicated in the digital age because things appear close, yet mostly exist virtually. Algorithms feed us desire; how intimacy ensues and what this looks like should now become the focus of enquiry. If algorithm is part of our interconnected ecology involving mind, society and environment, perhaps our experience of intimacy in the digital age should be re-negotiated.

As intimacy organises our experience of surfaces and of space then this is where we could begin our re-negotiation. If we focus on creating modes that engage closely with surfaces and space, maybe we can work our way backwards to assist us in understanding how the digital age has complicated our relationship with intimacy. To become more intimate we need to get closer to the surface. Surfaces and materials work hand-in-hand to create realities. Materials and our treatment of them have a role in our perception of intimacy because it is how physical realities are formed and understood. Meraud continues to unpack this in Iridescence, Intimacies, when she discusses the notion that surfaces hold or suspend a particular type of reality, whereby surfaces propose an “interior-exterior negotiation that ultimately results in a suspension of the appearance-reality distinction.” (9). This interior-exterior negotiation is relevant when considering two surfaces in particular: slime and shine. Slime is essentially a living organism so its interiority and the way it grows determine its exterior appearance. Shine appears predominantly as an exterior, either as a protective mechanism or a way to pull you toward it.

This exhibition Slime and Shine negotiates the notion of interconnected ecologies and intimacy using these surfaces as a starting point. Through materiality, the invisibility and acceleration embedded in our digital age has been slowed down and opened up, muddled around, harnessed and, to a certain extent, undone in the objects themselves. The objects are gentle, more precarious and connected to something outside of humanism – namely material processes and the inherent generative capabilities of our natural environment. There is an interdependent-independent relationship between materials and human intervention–we need each other, but material processes are not entirely in our control, and experimenting with new ways of engaging with them is largely speculative. Building structures to foster the growth of algae or experimenting with ceramics and glazes may not be able to facilitate intentions or produce the effects we hope; the algae may not grow, or the kiln may produce incongruous results. This speculation inherent to material process is a way to create our own cracks, open them and letting the slime seep through. It is an attempt to re-negotiate an interconnected ecology through Guattari’s lens from within the digital age.

Charlotte Cornish

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Hannah Hallam-Eames and Samuel Jacksons’ recent collaborative projects attempt to forge future-orientated encounters between algae, technology and humans. Their large-scale installations explore experimental systems involving sculpture, text, video and living organisms, working to entangle humans and algae into linguistic and material relationships. Their work seeks to read algae outside of the techno-capitalist prerogative of algae as a disavowal of the climate crisis and instead opens up nature to explore the materiality of algae through a vitalist and hermeneutic tradition.

Jana Hawkins-Andersen and Marian Tubbs recent collaborative projects explore the interplay between velocity and intimacy through material investigations. Their assemblage-based installations of hybrid objects and digitally constructed imagery illuminate traces of contamination, decay and care that can occur when objects and images seep into or onto each other. In so doing, their works unravel the contingencies between bodies, materials and space and interrogate our obligation and responsibility towards the complicated substances of techno-culture.

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Hannah Hallam-Eames is an artist from Te Whanganui-a-Tara, presently based in Melbourne where she is undertaking her MFA at Monash University, Caulfield. She completed her BFA with Honours from Massey University, Te Whanganui-a-Tara and the University of the West of England in 2014. Recent projects include POSTDIGITAL, NO-END Contemporary Art Space, Johannesburg, South Africa 2018; Brangelina the fruiting body, Floating reverie online residency program with Samuel Jackson, 2017–2018; Blame it on the rain (Film screenings), The Physics Room, Ōtautahi; Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, Te Whanganui-a-Tara; St Paul St Gallery,Tāmaki; WORM, Rotterdam, curated by JPEG2000 and Fresh and Fruity as part of Till the World Ends, 2017-18; Algae are more dangerous foes of truth than lies, with Samuel Jackson, Firstdraft, Sydney, 2017; Static Culture, Play_station Space, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 2017; Laminal interfaces, with Matt Ritani, Window Gallery, Auckland University, Tāmaki, 2016; Spilled Brains/Synthetic Circuits, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 2016; i think a lot about how i killed them, RM, Auckland, 2016; As a Lattice, Toi Poneke Gallery, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 2015; BLAST! Digital Arts Festival, ASIA NOW, Paris and Palermo, Italy in association with MoCA Pavilion, k11 Art Museum Shanghai and arthub, 2015. She has an upcoming project Quite Frankly Conference (with Samuel Jackson) hosted by Symbiotica and MOANA project space, Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth, 2018.

Samuel Jackson is an artist from Taranaki, currently based in Melbourne. He completed Honours in Media Studies at Victoria University, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 2015. Recent projects include stay_on PDF8 Egmont st, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 2015; Malware/s/lonely8 Egmont st, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 2016; Through various voids in the rocks, Meanwhile Gallery (online hypertext), Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 2017; Big Sacred Technologies, Blue Oyster Project Space, Ōtepoti, 2017; Algae are more dangerous foes of truth than lies (with Hannah Hallam-Eames), Firstdraft, Sydney, 2017;  Brangelina; the fruiting body, Floating Reverie Digital Art Residency, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2017; PostDigital, Johannesburg, South Africa, Kalashnikov Gallery , 2017; Recent published writing includes: “To conspire is to symbolise your secrets, Part 1”. HAMSTER Magazine, The Physics Room- Contemporary Art Space, Ōtautahi, 2018; “Response to Laminal Interfaces”, Window Gallery, Auckland University,Tāmaki 2016; “Immanent Feedback, Fire and Loss”, both RM, Tāmaki and Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 2016; “Open Source, Social Activism and “Necessary Trade-offs” in the Digital Enclosure: A Case Study of Platform Co-operative, loomio. org,” Triple C Journal, London,2016; “Fitbits,” Anxiety Control, Sado Journal, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 2017; Prophecy; a reflection on the oracle,” Blue Oyster Project Space, (pub) Ōtepoti, 2017. He has an upcoming project Quite Frankly Conference (with Hannah Hallam-Eames) hosted by Symbiotica and MOANA project space, Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth, 2018.

Jana Hawkins-Andersen is artist based in Sydney. She is currently an MFA Candidate and NSW Art and Design and a co-director at Firstdraft, Sydney. Recent projects include ‘Inside’, curated by Rafaela Pandolfini and Stella Rosa McDonald, held at Paddington Town Hall, Sydney, 2017; ‘Turbo’, a collaboration with Marian Tubbs, presented at the artists studio, 66 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, 2017; SafARI, Sydney, 2016;  ‘San Remo’ Ying Colloseum, Berlin, 2016; ‘Witness’ Minerva, Sydney 2015; ‘Honky Tonk Lagoon’, Minerva Suite, Spring 1883, the Establishment, Sydney 2015, ‘SPVII’ Turner Gallery, Tokyo 2015; ‘Pretender’, Firstdraft, Sydney, 2015.

Marian Tubbs’ completed a PhD at UNSW Art & Design in 2015, and is a sessional academic at, Art & Design UNSW, and Photomedia Lecturer at National Art School, Sydney. Tubbs’ upcoming and recent exhibitions include STATION, Sydney, Sydney, 2018; Another Dimension, McClelland Sculpture Gallery, Mornington, 2018; In Practice, Sculpture Center, NY, 2017; Zona Maco Sur, ltd Los Angeles, Mexico City, 2017; Contemporary Monsters, Minerva, Sydney, 2016; Abstract Sex, Bard CCS, New York, 2016; Pleasure and Reality, National Gallery of Victoria, 2015-2016; Contemporary Print Culture, National Gallery of Australia, 2015; riven, Station, Melbourne, 2015; Relational Changes, Christine König Galerie, Vienna, 2015; NADA, New York, Minerva, 2015; Hairy Plotter and the Polygrapher’s Tones, Toves, Copenhagen, 2015; Primavera 2014: Young Australian Artists, MCA, Sydney, 2014; Quake 2, Arcadia Missa, London, 2014; and Glean, Minerva, Sydney, 2014. She has recently curated shows including Care (with Dana Kopel) at Interstate Projects, NY and Witness at Minerva, Sydney. In 2015, Tubbs was the inaugural recipient of the MCA’s Online Commission. Tubbs’ work is held at the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Art and international institutional collections. She has published and presented art and philosophy research at international and local conferences. In 2014, she contributed as an author to the philosophy volume “Intensities & Lines of Flight”, published by Rowman & Littlefield International.

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Image courtesy of Marian Tubbs.