Archive for October, 2010

Robyn Moody on “Life in the 2 Field” at Truck Contemporary Art

Last Thursday I attended a talk at Truck Contemporary Art. Robyn Moody spoke about his exhibition, Life in the 2 Field. He talked about his other work as well and then moved on to addressing this exhibition. The exhibition puts the gallery space into the “2 field”, which is an animation term for a drawing surface that’s much smaller than normal so that when it’s projected, all the mistakes of millimeters from one frame to another are amplified, and so the wines are wavy and shakey. The gallery space is outlined with black cords that vibrate and there are two windows which frame moving scenes. If you are viewing the windows straight on, the scene is complete, but you can easily see how everything is moving (all of the motors are visible), and if you move at all the picture in the window breaks.

Life in the 2 Field, Robyn Moody

Photo Credit: Robyn Moody

It was really interesting because my experience of the exhibition was dominated by one specific sensation that has a lot to do with how I’m hardwired, not just the exhibition. I am fairly high strung, and I tremble a fair amount. So the constant movement of the dark lines on the white walls of the gallery was too much for me — it was like the room was vibrating at the same frequency as me, and that the harmonics were going to make me explode or something. It was really unsettling and the only way I could ignore it and spend time in the show was to pay attention to the motors and the workings of the show. They were interesting, and their movement wasn’t overwhelming — it was logical.

Why I find this so interesting is what Moody was saying about what it the show meant. He conceptualized the “2 field” as a sort of magical world where we can believe what we want to believe, but the workings are obvious for the sufficiently curious.  He did this because he sees the world going into a new dark age of human thought where we just believe thing and critical thinking is decreased (His reference was Jane Jacobs’ A Dark Age Ahead). He cited ideas like homeopaths as an example of the uncritical view that bothers him.

Why I find this so interesting is because my reaction is basically opposite to how the show’s supposed to function. I don’t think this means the work is unsuccessful and I think it could be successful for someone who’s less tightly wound. Also it does sounds nice, the fun wavy lines, the room breaking free of its arbitrary bonds of space and logic and dancing. But I was basically looking at the logical inner workings because they were logical and didn’t move around on me so much. They were quieter and easier to deal with; the “fun, exciting, magical” movement was just bordering on the harrowing for me, something to studiously avoid if possible.

That was basically one of the main reasons I wanted to go the artist talk — I knew that my perception of the show had been very much shaped by me, and wanted to get an idea of what it was like for other people. I chatted with an infant speech researcher, Stephanie Archer, after the talk, and she was saying she has the same problem when there are more than 2 sounds on in a room. So maybe my being more of a spatial thinker made the visual movement and cacaphony more of any issue. It’s also interesting because the movement makes a huge difference. Busy and strange static images have never made me feel like that.