The exhibition Apertures and Anxieties at the RHA last night was interesting. Many biological related work- in that many of the works took biological points of reference and literally related them to the public. This may have been the premise, yet is it enough? Many great histologists have been dissecting and analysing tissue for decades; all beautiful and complex work; yet for art – even an art that references science, must surely move beyond histological referencing. Dendritic arbourisations of brain cells are beautiful in nature yet something gets lost in representations of them and this was certainly the case with much of the work featured.

There were exceptions however and Aideen Barry’s Deep in the marrow worked well in the sterility of the space; the artist creating a complex psuedosurgical organism from disparate computerised media. All connoting the necessary and life-saving link between machine and man. Also featured were some wonderful paintings from Ciaran Murphy backing up my notion on ‘new painting’ (see previous entry). The work Amphitheatre cleverly dealing with the performative and God-like nature of the doctor; it reminded me of Rembrandt’s famous Anatomy lesson, also the cadavers of Marlene Dumas. This simple painting (as well as the drawings by Eilis O’Connell), seem to examine the notion of the body as document and witness. Also worth noting is O’Connell’s treatment of biological circuit diagrams – she manages to make each system look like a different one. What I mean is the eye diagram looks very womb-like; another really reminded me of the input pathways to the hippocampus – the centre for memory formation. The artist has altered ones perception of systems and given them a mutable/secondary arrangement – changing their recognisability. This poses interesting questions regarding the nature of systems but also the complexity of surgical procedure when dealing with real tissue.
Well worth a visit for scientists and artists alike.


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