Nowhere / Now / Here, contemplating the work of a machine


Nowhere / Now / Here photo set

Nowhere / Now / Here is an exhibition organized by LABoral, Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial of Gijón: 78 works by 67 artists from 20 countries, exhibited till the end of April. The exhibition, curated by the Spanish designers Roberto Feo and Rosario Hurtado, walks the line between art and design, only to discover that that line doesn’t exist anymore: it vanished, creating opportunities to find new ways to recount the ever-changing contemporary reality and shape the future. The three thematic areas (Material Intervention, Psychological Exploration and Cultural Resistance) highlight three areas of research and provide a useful map for trying to understand the main threads of contemporary design. The curators have chosen to shun fixed categories, arguing that they are simply a marketing device, so the exhibition area contains artworks made with the most disparate media and approaches: from the azulejos of the Portuguese designers Pedrita to the virtual reality of British designer Marc Owens. Feo and Hurtado, by exhibiting works they feel an affinity to, have been able to encourage a union between these works. This has been augmented through showing works in small groups with attached identity tags (for example: solitude, memento, symbiosis, expansion, absence, fiction, etc.) that although seeming somewhat arbitrary, represent a natural way to inspire discussion of different approaches to design. The feeling that the artworks are dialectically citing one another is also promoted through their method of arrangement. Asturian designer Patricia Urquiola has produced a configuration that gives rise, despite the fluid nature of the course, to some micro-island of sensibility. By yielding to the currents, we can navigate from the re-appropriation of public spaces expressed by Santiago Cirugenda’s ‘Recetas Urbanas’ and made explicit by a beautiful video featuring some Playmobil dolls (those tiny plastic dolls that were a favourite toy of many children) as the actors, to the tasting of food dishes made by “telemadre” (mother TV), the founder of the social networking project bearing the same name as the Spanish collective. Mmmm…We come to face Paolo Valbuena’s architectures, in which the physical layer is overlaid by a virtual one, represented by a projection that modifies the 3D model, giving the viewer the impression that they are front of an infinitely transforming geometry. We are also impressed by the many artworks which tackle the relation between food and design, like Tithi Kutchamuch’s “extra less” chocolate bars, or ‘Somos lo Que Comemos’ by the duo Zanuka. Moreover, we get ecstatic looking wicks turning into candles when they’re submerged in hot wax by the machine created by Studio Glithero (Sarah van Gameren and Tim Simpson). ‘Panta Rei’ is the appropriate name of this installation and, indeed, it is its inexorably slow motion that captivates the viewer. This work by the Dutch-British duo is also remarkable because it shows both the machine and its products (the candles). In contemporary culture the paroxysm of unbridled consumerism (a central element in other exhibited works, too) focuses our attention on products, making us forget the processes that bring them within our reach. In our intoxicated state, contemplating the work of a machine out of time and reality is like being caressed by a whiff of romanticism, a moment so pleasant we’re induced to linger.

Vito Campanelli