FormContent, 51'63 Ridley Road, London E8 2NP

  • Explorar 6
    Title : Explorar 6
  • Explorar 7
    Title : Explorar 7
  • Modellin standard 1
    Title : Modellin standard 1
  • P1030494 copy copy
    Title : P1030494 copy copy
  • P1030502 copy
    Title : P1030502 copy

Jorge Satorre and Erick Beltrán: Modelling Standard. Review by Maggie Grey

A poster press release at the door to Modelling Standard provides the first clue that FormContent’s latest exhibition might emphasise the content side of things. It proclaims the starting points for Jorge Satorre and Erick Beltrán’s collaboration as Carlo Ginzburg’s concept of the micro-history, and science’s Standard Model used to explain interactions between sub-atomic particles. Cerebral stuff, but it’s not at the expense of the visuals. The at-a-glance effect of Jorge Avina’s comic-like illustrations, which form the physical content of the exhibition, is eye-catchingly energetic and intricate, and well matched to the complexity of the show’s ideas. On top of a wealth of pictorial detail, every image harbours words and phrases. Difficult ones: ‘apophenia’, ‘cognitive neuroscience’, ‘Naegely-Franceschetti-Jadassohn Syndrome’. I decided rather quickly that I should take a little longer over my visit than planned.

Satorre and Beltrán installed this exhibition in front of an audience, hastily pasting up the paper sheets while constructing and explaining the narratives between them. Their footprints still muddy the occasional image, and I found myself wishing I could have attended. It might have helped navigate the resulting, bewildering ‘detective plot’ of references, presented as a sort of comic book drawing-board. It features a murder (‘Sherlock Holmes vs. Fantômas’ - a story in which Holmes is the victim), and aspects of detective investigation: definitions of the perfect crime, notes on the discovery of the fingerprint and of a physical condition which leaves certain people without one. Fantômas, the perfect villain (so elusive that people do not believe he exists) is evoked alongside sheets that highlight the fallibility of human recognition. A host of further scientific and academic theories addressing the physical, societal and psychological details of our lives are also thrown into the mix. Fittingly, the main protagonists of the plot are famously great minds - Freud, Morelli and Arthur Conan Doyle all feature.

I cannot profess to have followed much of this investigative narrative. Perhaps the artists at the opening reached a more concrete conclusion than I was able to puzzle out. Perhaps it doesn’t matter: one illustration claims that the processes of investigation are as important as results. The show illustrates the idea that history should be taken as a set of clues rather than a series of facts, and that how we interpret these depends on how closely we look and from what angle. There are some memorable insights to that effect, my favourite being a comment on scale illustrated by a man battling a foe whose atoms fly apart to avoid any blow: ‘A model is a metaphor - depending on the scale you are reading, different particles appear. Form is a choice of scale.’ Look closely enough at anything and the best part of it becomes the space between its atoms.

It’s on this level that our protagonists really fit in. Morelli argued that we should look at the seemingly insignificant details of a disputed artwork to determine authenticity - a skilled fraud can mimic an artist’s famous style, but might overlook the subtly characteristic ways in which they jot off a finger or an earlobe. Freud troubled himself with childhood and the subconscious - the peripheral memories of adult life. Conan Doyle created the detective par excellence, able to spot the slightest logical or emotional inconsistency. These are thinkers who looked at the world with a creatively analytical mind, tackling the details to arrive at a bigger conclusion.

Unless you want to take a text book with you, some of the images and theories on display will probably baffle, and there is no Agatha Christie summary to round up this show. The pictorial and verbal scribbles adorning FormContent’s four walls remind me of the scrawlings of a scientist in full mental flow: potentially fascinating, sometimes inscrutable but worth spending time over.

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