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Dark Matters: Tricks Of The Eye At The Whitworth

One Of The Last Whitworth Art Gallery Exhibitions Promises To Be A Cracker

Published on September 21st 2011.


Dark Matters: Tricks Of The Eye At The Whitworth

“THE most transitory of things, a shadow, the proverbial emblem of all that is fleeting and momentary, may be fettered by the spells of our ‘natural magic,’ and may be fixed for ever in the position which it seemed only destined for a single instant to occupy.” William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877 British Engineer and Pioneer of photography) 

Dark Matters is opening this week. 

This is a new major exhibition focusing on the theme of shadow, technology and art.

It brings together works and new commissions from internationally acclaimed contemporary artists, all using a range of media and technologies to explore the impact of scientific, digital and mechanical invention upon visual culture.

The exhibition has strong interactive and digital elements, giving people new ways in which to access art and thus making it perfect for families to explore with lots of child-friendly and young eye fascinating installations.

For three hundred years advances in science and technology have shaped and communicated our desires, fantasies and fears through an array of optical devices; from shadow plays to magic lanterns, photographic discoveries to the latest digital techniques. 

These developments have been intertwined with philosophical thought about image and truth, embodied by a fascination with shadow and darkness. 

Dark Matters reflects these ideas with an exhibition populated by half-seen spectres, visual riddles and distorted reflections. Visitors will be able to explore this and magical space, whilst also having the opportunity to reflect upon the deeper ideas behind the exhibition and its themes of time, absence, truth, mortality and wonder. 

The digital elements of the exhibition build on the Whitworth’s existing reputation in this area including its recent exhibition Projections: Works from the Artangel Collection. 

Highlights include works from Daniel Rozin, R. Luke Dubois, Idris Khan, Hiraki Sawa, Ja-Young Ku, Brass Art, Pascal Grandmaison, Barnaby Hosking, Pavel Büchler and Elin O’Hara Slavick. 

Upsidedown Pgm09.018 Hi Res %281%29Pascal Grandmaison 'Fake Imagery of a World Upsidedown' 

Dark Matters Curator Helen Stalker said: “There will be an array of work to delight and amaze. Works by Daniel Rozin combine state-of-the-art digital software with wooden machinery and suspended silk to create art objects of technological wonder. R. Luke Dubois’ sparkling computer-generated version of cinematic romance and Barnaby Hosking’s imposing ‘Black Flood’ challenge our perceptions in the dark and large photographic works by Idris Khan present historically important texts as translucent, layered shadows.” 

A new commission by Brass Art entitled ‘Still Life No 1’ will occupy the Whitworth’s sculpture court with a looming cavalcade of shadow trickery. 

Did I? – an animated film  by Japanese artist Hiraki Sawa and a new commission by Korean artist Ja-Young Ku, which combines performance and projection to question reality, will also form part of the Asia Triennial Manchester (ATM 11), which runs from 1 October to 27 November. 

Works by Rembrandt, Paula Rego, Rachel Whiteread, William Blake and Francis Bacon will explore how artists have drawn upon the power of shadow to convey memory, time, presence and loss. 

In collaboration with Animate Projects and to coincide with the opening of ‘Dark Matters’, the Whitworth will present a four-week screening of work by contemporary animators who make use of a variety of techniques and technologies to engage with themes of loss, memory and darkness.

Sigmund Freud's The UncannyIris Khan's 'Sigmund Freud's The Uncanny'

An ‘after hours’ film programme will periodically screen important cinematic works of film noir, and historic chillers such as Fritz Lang’s M (1931) and Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941). 

Dark Matters will be one of the last significant temporary exhibitions before the site work commences on the Whitworth’s £12 million capital redevelopment project, which will include the creation of a new interactive learning space and a new entrance to the gallery to open by the end of 2013.

Whitworth Art Gallery is at Oxford Road, Manchester, M156ER, 0161 275 7450.

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Dave RobinsonSeptember 27th 2011.

Why does everyone hate front doors so much?! Stick with that one, Whitworth!

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