A glimmering device on the gallery floor displays a progression of digital minutes. Numbers glow green in the dimly lit room. They change from odd to even, signing years, and stock market rates. The thin, liquid-crystal screen positioned on a paper box plays a reworked promotional video-ad of the Chip Scale Atomic Clock: a miniature version of the most accurate time-keeping device known today. A universal socket adaptor and the shipping box point to elsewhere; to the possibility to travel in time. A glowing lock-shaped nightlight hints to encryption, while shedding light.
Layers of time, economic systems and environments tightly interconnect in Yuri Pattison’s new exhibition. ‘to-do, doing, d̶o̶n̶e̶’ explores the narratives embedded in time-based technologies and the very fabric of reality. A combination of existing and newly-made works shows the connection between seemingly unrelated worlds, by turning to the ineffable world of toxins, waves and frequencies.
At the centre of the room, a sculpture confronts us with ecological cycles. A monitor hung on a metal framework shows the rendering of a sunset. The blazing skyline splits the screen horizontally, while a nebulous sea and sky restlessly change colour. The ethereal video-game-like landscape of ‘sun[set] provisioning’ is closer to reality than it seems. An air monitoring station embedded in the skeletal sculpture records in real time the air in the room. The sampled data is translated by a graphic software into abstract visions of our current reality. The sky is under a spell, forceful and storied. In the cloudy atmosphere, an invisible world rises to the surface.
Pattison invites us to look with the same degree of attention to space, the materially of objects and the experience of seeing itself. As the fragmented framework of the sculpture suggests, he deconstructs technologies that record and shape reality - to make it seen again. Combining air sampling software with graphic abstractions, Pattison conjures a fiction which sharply exposes facts. The green-tinged sea recalls a radioactive spill, suggesting that human activity – be it breathing in the gallery room or chemically on a global scale – contaminates the planet. The work connects, in a subtle way, the erraticism of weather cycles to our actions and movements. Just by being in the atmospheric field, we inevitably pull its threads.
While a sculpture performs visibility, another sets the pace. ‘true time master’ makes audible the otherwise silent frequencies of the Chip Scale Atomic Clock by means of an amplifier, a flat speaker, and other electronic components, all mounted on a metal rack. These frequencies - used as a primary means to control modern technologies including television broadcasting, GPS, military activities and high-frequency trading - are broken into a repetitive white noise, a vibrating trance. The proximity of this noise to Pattison’s photographs of the Big Ben, sealed in clear perspex boxes nearby, draws powerful historical links. The ruins of a fallen colonial empire form the ground for current digital systems of communication and navigation. Pattison breaks time into units, showing how past actions recur in a technological present while previous systems become obsolete.
In the exhibition, some information may be hard to grasp - locks dotting the room are a reminder. Things demand a closer look. This is not due to the work, but to the complexity of matters and technologies that Pattison ambitiously tackles. With a physical approach that heightens perception, Pattison makes us more present. Presence - that thing which improves focus and allows to tune in with information - is enacted to resist the manipulation of facts. In a fast-paced society, when facts are cloudy, recovering attention is key.
Pattison’s work has great consideration for the audience. The exhibition takes on an holistic approach both in the philosophical and medical version of the term. It shows that we are parts of a whole. The cables in both the exhibition space and photographs point to interconnection. Every object, material, even people, constitute the language of reality. Nobody is excluded, for better or worse. As the show’s title suggests, things progress, technologies go out of fashion and hyphens are naturally lost as languages evolve. In a room where everything has become the same material and past advancements become obsolete, we may be next. Despite the feeling that time is running out, and that the sun may not rise again, the atmosphere is mellow and light, almost therapeutic. Photo-filters tone down the gallery lights, as lock-shaped nightlights lead the way. The show awakens, with a soft embrace.