Foregrounding an attention towards current global political change, ‘All Channels Open’ is a presentation of ‘a polyphony of many voices’. A launch to Wysing Arts Centre’s annual programme, the group exhibition becomes a synthesised, disseminating set of materials from the ten artists who were in-residence at Wysing during 2016. A synchronised arrangement of projectors, monitors, objects and surround sound explore the themes that emerged; similar to a compilation played within a subdued, minimally lit dance floor, an imaginable mic is passed to each artist in an effort to amplify her or his voice and position in the space.
Predominantly time-based pieces of sound, video, and performance are presented together through a curatorial sensitivity to their nascent states: each work’s autonomy is maintained throughout, with a slight sequential overlay to form delicate bonds of empathic connection, curiosity, and occasional lament in conditions of their own production.
The exhibition is intentionally demanding of its audience. The programme handout to navigate ‘All Channels Open’ mimics the graphic representation of media such as DJ mixing software, or perhaps the more familiar newsprint schedule of broadcast channels, programmes, and timings. The format of the printed device alludes to potential concerns within the works – the recognition of a networked apparatus connecting elements – an ordering within institutions or the entanglement of philosophical discourses, in what can now be understood as a less concrete ‘post-truth era’.
The atmospheric and ambient nature of the display recalls the affect-based abstraction of screen-based exhibitions such as ‘TV as a Creative Medium’ at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York in the 1960s, or the somewhat misguided promise of changing technology in the more recent ‘Broadcast Yourself’. A strong resonance of experimentation can be found in the three-channel, fragmented projection by the collaborative force of Beatrice Dillon, Florence Peake and Anne Tetzlaff, and in Wojciech Kosma’s disruptive performance of an embodied, projected screen as well as Lawrence Lek’s ‘FABRIK’. Evan Ifekoya’s effective, complex, and evolving sound-based installation ‘Scenario One: The Ice Box’ - from radio play ‘This Catalog of Poses’ - signifies queer aesthetics with pink metallic streamers lining the walls, and is nicely situated in a transitional space of the gallery.
Astounding psychological situations are also evoked. Laura O’Neill’s CGI video ‘In All Sincerity Said The Chicken To The Egg’ mediates a peculiar fantasy: the controversial cancellation of spring to make up for a budget deficit, reportedly caused by migrants. An absurd proposition that is encroachingly believable in light of recent threats to resources that protect environmental rights and dehumanising tendencies dominating media coverage.
Henna-Riikka Halonen’s ‘Placeholder’ is a variegated video collage of found footage, open source and animated imagery foretelling the impending agency of AI resulting from a lack of human empathy. Intervening in the robotic script is a disembodied, tight-lipped mouthpiece of Jack Nicolson from the film ‘A Few Good Men’. Reminding us that we live in a world of forceful armament and are divided by guarded walls, his infamous accusation of an inability to handle the truth is once again unsettling.
Direct address is used throughout segments of the exhibition. Across many of the works is a recurring confrontation and fallout of reconciliation with the past, as positive transformation in social relations has seemingly failed after globalisation.
A segmented sound piece and sculpture by Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, ‘Finding Fanon 3: First Movement,’ is emblematic of overarching social concerns. Imbuing a poignant, agonistic narrative throughout the space, the work claims that ‘technology has confused everything. Roads, and boats, and planes - each bringing more cultures, more communities, into closer proximity,’ yet, ‘instead there are walls in people’s minds, wishing for physical boundaries from the other. The other language, the other custom, the other skin, trying to contain something that never existed.’ Ultimately, the work calls upon a mindful resistance to oppressive algorithms and privilege: ‘the time has arisen to cast aside these bonds and to exalt our consciousness to a higher plane, in order for us to become a part of all things. We must fight.’