14 April – 22 May 2010
"Rinsed with mercury / Throughout to this bespattered / Fruit of reflection, rife / With… distortion / (Each other, clouds and trees). What made a mirror flout its flat convention? / Surfacing as a solid… / And what was the sensation / When stars alone like bees / Crawled numbly over it?..."
The Changing Light at Sandover, James Merrill
White Cube Mason's Yard presented an exhibition of new works by Cerith Wyn Evans, taking its title from a song by Steely Dan, 'Everyone's Gone To The Movies' (1975), Wyn Evans created two major installations that transformed the gallery spaces, engaging the viewer through the interaction of light, sound and reflection.
Suspended in the ground floor gallery was 'C=O=N=S=T=E=L=L=A=T=I=O=N (I call your image to mind)' a polyphonic sound mobile adapted from a series of 'audio spotlights' by the American holosonic inventor Joseph Pompei. Suspended in tiers, sixteen mirrored discs gently rotate in mid-air, transmitting directional, ultra-sonic beams of sound. This consists of a multi-layered soundtrack or sound collage created by Wyn Evans using various audio sources amongst which are his own piano arrangements and field recordings gathered by the Lovell radio telescope in Jodrell Bank. These constantly shifting bursts of audio disorientate the viewer as the polished 'mirror-speakers' reflect and deflect the sound off the surrounding walls, creating a phenomenological experience that can neither be shared nor repeated. In the stairwell, Wyn Evans placed a white neon sculpture titled 'Subtitle', which could be read when reflected on the adjacent glass window, interrupting the view to outside. The neon spells out the phrase 'Thoughts unsaid now forgotten…', occasioning a cognitive slippage whilst, at the same time prompting us to recollect.
In the lower ground floor space Wyn Evans created a spectacular installation of light columns entitled 'S=U=P=E=R=S=T=R=U=C=T=U=R=E ('Trace me back to some loud, shallow, chill, underlying motive's overspill…')' that references the former electricity sub-station which stood on the site now occupied by the gallery. This soaring infrastructure consists of seven columns that reach over five metres high, built of drums of tubular light bulbs, stacked in varying lengths and diameters. The layout, while following no apparent guiding rule creates its own order, intuitively informed by principals of spatial balance that the artist has encountered in Japanese rock gardens, galactic alignment and site groupings of stars in astrophotography. Yet here, the transparency of these vertiginous flutes, defined by flecked-wire filaments that run through their centre, appear to hide nothing. Intermittently the columns surge to a blinding brightness, then gradually fade back down to black, channeling an incandescent sense of breath and ethereality.
In the small adjoining gallery Wyn Evans hung a series of twenty-two framed works on paper, titled 'F=R=E=S=H=W=I=D=O=W', that references a poem by Stephane Mallarmé titled 'Un coup de des jamais n'abolira le hasard' (A throw of the dice will never abolish chance), which was published posthumously in 1914. The poem was reprinted in 1969 by Marcel Broodthaers who described it as an 'image' after having blocked out the various typefaces and arrangement of words using black bars. Wyn Evans takes this a process a step further by framing each page of the poem, both recto and verso, like a series of intervals, glazed on both sides. Every line of the poem has now been cut away leaving a composition of interstitial gaps on the gallery wall - framing the materiality of the already framed 'white cube'.
The Artist would like to thank Dr Tim O'Brien of the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics for their support and assistance.
A fully illustrated catalogue, including an interview with the artist by Hans Ulrich Obrist, accompanied the exhibition.