TFMRL, two channel video, 2010
Mutatis Mutandis, Digital ink jet prints, map pins, 2010
From left: Gingly Form / Block Leave, Melton wool, chrome poles and fixtures, glass, 2010
Smart-Casuals, Melton wool, chrome poles and fixtures, perspex, 2010
Off the Cuff, Melton wool, coat hook, 2010
30 October – 16 December 2010
Dan Coopey’s exhibition at The Agency gallery, incorporating wall works, video and large-scale sculpture, continues the British artist’s ongoing investigations into the restrictions placed upon visual language by it’s incumbent means of representation.
A series of monitors relay demonstrations by a string figure expert as he goes through various modes of representing narratives through this ancient transcultural means. The expert remains anonymous however – his face digitally obscured – concentrating the viewer’s attention on the ability of depiction using the limiting constraints of string and the human body. The work continues themes brought to prominence in a previous extensive body of work Print Errors (2008 –) in which images were abstracted and ultimately destroyed by the failures of a home printer in the dying stages of its ink cartridge. Like the failure inherent in that body of work, here the instructor is always faced with the likelihood that his art will fail in its representative aims. With no sound, and the storyteller’s facial expressions obliterated; the narrative to the actions are lost, leaving only changing abstracted, architectural, models of string. The ongoing human desire to communicate primary imagery through secondary means is documented as being not merely a modern, technologically minded preoccupation but something far more historic and perhaps even intrinsic.
A series of 31 fly posters pasted to the gallery walls display an illusive narrative. Taken from a 1970’s Israeli children’s book with the original Hebrew text removed, the illustrations depict abstract shapes in bold flat colours seemingly shifting between each page. Without an eligible translation these mysterious images are akin to the forms depicted in the videos, autonomous and devoid of translation their apparent logic remains internal.
Dominating the gallery’s two floors are a series of architectural scale sculptures in which different coloured, densely woven wool sheets are stretched between two ceiling and floor mounted steel poles, their natural fall broken by the angled leaning of a glass sheet. In differing the angle relationship of glass to material in each work Coopey highlights the issue of constraint and limitation against variation again, this time in a design context. In repeating the work Coopey is asking the viewer to consider the gallery space and the sculpture’s formal makeup in the same context as the string figures: a situation of constant variability within unchanging formal parameters. A duo of wall-mounted, A4-printed, Adobe-standard colour spectrum, collated at a spiral, act as formal pivot to the exhibition: within their arrangement they mask off significant blocks of colour leaving a dominating pigment, which in turn, relate formally to both the sculptural and video-based work. The spectrum, as generated by computer software, is demonstrative of the wide colour range available to the software user; yet ultimately it remains a limited construct.