Dan Auluk is an artist-curator living and working in Birmingham, UK.
Auluk's arts practice is interested in the making of art activity (as medium) and the experiences shared through experimental collaborative approaches. The art activity includes experimenting with text, spoken word, sound, video, performance, participation and intervention, manifesting as live art collaborative performances that invite audiences to take part. This live art attempts to blur the boundaries betweeen artist, curator and audience, exploring alternate ways of activating spaces and audiences and destablizing the conventions we are used to, when experiencing art in an exhibition context.
In a small section of Plague of Fantasies the popular Zizek reframes the argument of science vs. religion as a discourse between the perspectives of an ‘open’ or ‘closed’universe. Science, he argues, ‘closes’ the universe into a system devoid of the need for metaphor or meaning, a mythic ‘concretism’ as Horkheimer would posit, replacing the ‘open’ universe where religious dispositions could make links between separate phenomena as significant, where events are connected through mystic signs and order. It became curious then, that lying awake in a hotel with a partner one evening, we stumbled on a programme hosted by a familiar voice; Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking’s Universe contains superficially condensed yet intense graphic renderings which chart the origins of the universe from the big bang up to the creation or perhaps rather given the context, the consequence or formation- of earth.
Aside some of the more interesting problems with how the show deals with the representation of space with continual analogies to modest life experiences as models for describing complex
stellar phenomena, was the underlying subtext to the 6-episode marathon with that of the idea of perfection. Hawking parks his wheelchair between various cut scenes with a vague and frozen grimace, and reflects (scripted of course) continually how the universe came into existence due to imbalances and imperfections, and that these should be celebrated and encouraged with a cheery awe that the cosmos itself is conceptually linked somehow to our own personal flaws, a product itself –or rather in this context, a formation or consequence- of imbalances dating from the birth of the universe. The subtextual poetry in essence imports a smaller vehicle for thinking about the universe (as William Blake did holding sand in the refracted sun), a system far more infinitely complex to grasp in totality, by references to the littler things in life, for descriptions or metaphors, to sum up, dissect, or point to complexity. It is how we burden little things with extraordinary claims, and half way through the particular episode it becomes obvious that it is as necessary as it is self-congratulatory. As a result, despite its origin in theoretical science, Hawking’s narration is made strangely more ‘open’ than ‘closed’ about the universe.
The inaugural work at Vinyl within this context appear to deal with a similar burden, dealing with a certain cosmic vagueness that leans within and toward the latter framing for categorising an ‘open’ universe, as the run-up artists blog entries (a very credible/progressive measure to production the gallery encourages for each exhibiting artist) to the show demonstrates some points of departure for the muted works on show –a recipe for placenta’s, meditations on the big bang, an anecdote of a funeral-, with a predilection for metaphors loosely, and a flirtation with subjective poetics. The small space is utilised efficiently to a select set of main satellite focus points, bearing this allusive open experience. Within certainly the context of the work, there appears to be a strain of the cosmic (representation and construction) or the artists own space and that of impending death or birth. It is a common phenomena that when it comes contemplating the cosmos, only three things we pretend tend to matter; life, death and love; as if everything if our backs are to the wall was worthless or only distorted inflations from these three elements; in this sense a ‘closed’ antithesis to the work (a Buckminster Fuller objectivity where humans are relatives not imperatives) is disconnected replaced by sort of confidence in the emergent self-poetic, continually offering a point towards which the work may vanish, or beyond which they end, abruptly. An ambiguous piece of footage angled awkwardly (a reference to a previous shows work by the artist which documented the recording of a space in a shopping trolley) un-top of a stack of books, a selection of which are from the directors own library with allusions to Eastern mysticism and space or travel, (extending the show into an interesting connection between curatorial collaboration and personality), replays and loops what looks like an organic form, from anything of a coral reef to the embryo, and contains some of the mystery and intrigue similar to that of the ‘Loris Greaud turns popcorn into a intergalactic object’* scenario. Of note two small wall pieces -one of what looks faintly like military or concentration camp crowd and the other a single text from a book taken and ripped neatly from what could be a pulp sci-fi novel now a chance encounter that speaks within the first chapter of traveling in space, gives some way into realms of popular fantasy and interestingly, a degree of melancholy that demonstrates and effects the meaning, as if a Chris Marker narration lay underneath the exhibition as an undercurrent, or the feeling of the incidental image passing in black and white mediates the contemplation that requires reading, as one imagines Barthes did, smoking in front of his mothers photo, wondering where to place the punctum, or what it’s doing to his sensitive interior. Whether the works work together or separately is not clear. That the space is acting as a satellite receptive to a convergence of ideas is.
Review by artist Gene-George Earle.
Review of To take on its own life by Gene Earl George