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Sphere Of Accuracies/ Zone Of Truth, Bar Lane Studios, York, until March 31
11:53am Friday 11th March 2011 in Exhibitions
SPHERE Of Accuracies/ Zone Of Truth may be an intimidating title for an exhibition, all the more so when it is a group show on the theme of art, science and neutrality.
Do not be put off, because it raises the bar still higher at the York art success story of 2010 and now 2011, Bar Lane Studios – and nothing could be more apt than French digital artist Frederique Swist’s exuberant work Yes!.
Opened only last year, the studios are progressing rapidly, so much so that the café will make way for more studio space for York artists, and the coffee, cakes and sofas will bring a more relaxed atmosphere to the expanded exhibition rooms at the front.
Those rooms, with new wooden flooring, are now playing host to a debut union between Bar Lane Studios, York St John University’s faculty of arts and the national Institute of Physics, wherein four artists explore the complex and often problematic relationship between art and science within the wider context of critical art practice.
For the fullest analysis of what that entails you could read the essay by Professor Gary Peters, chairman of critical and cultural theory in the aforementioned arts faculty in the immaculately produced exhibition catalogue.
He was, however, happy to break it down into more bite-sized chunks in the company of exhibition collaborator Frederique, who is exhibiting alongside Greg Bright, Tracey Holland and Luke Jerram.
“Fred and I have collaborated on the project with my background in philosophy and artistic theory and Fred developing her art practice from her graphic design work for the science academic publishing branch of the UK Institute of Physics in Bristol, which is where I met her when she was doing a PhD at the University of the West of England, when I was a professor there.”
In a nutshell, unlike the increasing number of shows intent on illustrating the perceived links between the two cultures, Sphere Of Accuracies/Zone Of Truth embarks on a more challenging course, primarily engaged with questions of truth and knowledge, presentation and representation, objectivity and neutrality, “rather than the often spurious parallels drawn between the aesthetic and the scientific”.
On one level, the exhibition visualises scientific data and “then makes it something of beauty”, but “we’re more interested in art and science being different, but having common characteristics,”
“What they have in common is discipline and rigour, and so although art is not about fact or truth, there is an invisible connection and a sharing of an underlying methodology.”
One of the big divisions between the two, says Gary, is that science deals with facts, which results in scientists having problems with artists thinking that “anything goes”. “Therefore artists have to find a way of working that allows them to make a coherent body of work, where it’s not about establishing an absolute truth but the work does have rigour.”
Rigour and discipline are essential to Frederique’s digital works, especially in her precise application of colour. “That’s why I see my art practice as an extension of my scientific graphic design, as it allows me to push the creative process much further,” she says. “If you talk about how I do my work, it is methodology that drives it, with the colours forming relationships.
“I can establish colour families numerically, giving each colour a numerical value and then I use percentages to create hundreds of variations that I can then adjust.”
If that sounds technical, it is, but the results do indeed make you go “Yes!”. “Ultimately, Fred has to apply an aesthetic judgement as to what looks right,” says Gary.
“To me, the essence of art is aesthetic judgements that are informed by taste and experience but what’s interesting in Fred’s work is that she is documenting the process as well.”
The exhibition spans light installation, digital print, painting, drawing and glasswork, and if you are still worried about being blinded by science, don’t be. Take a walk up Micklegate to Bar Lane Studios between now and March 31.