Whisper to me in HTML at Prelim Projects
The Chapel at St. Margaret’s House in London is a delicate jewel box. Located behind the main buildings away from bustling Cambridge Heath Road and Bethnal Green Station, the Georgian chapel sits white and spare. This secluded setting acts as the site for PRELIM PROJECTS’ inaugural exhibition “Whisper to me in HTML.” Curated by Benjamin Hoare, PRELIM PROJECTS presents brief, fleeting exhibitions in what Hoare calls “temporary sites,” places outside of the purview of art. “Whisper to me in HTML” examines the expansive space of the virtual through works by Imogen Lloyd, Tessa Perutz, and art404.
Both Tessa Perutz and art404 engage with the signs of e-interactions. Through painted representations of logograms and symbols, Perutz takes the digital and makes it tangible. Love Letter (Emoji) (2016) shows a letter sealed with a large red heart: Sealed with a Kiss simplified to a singular symbol. Just as artists once reduced painting to pure form, so too has language been reduced to image, a universal communication schema. Pertuz’s consideration of form and color link her paintings to the classical understanding of an art object, one with aura and uniqueness. For art404’s Google Gradient (2015), the self-defined company has created a canvas featuring thousands of pictures sourced from Google’s Cloud Vision, reduced to thumbnails, and ordered by color to produce an ombré effect as black fades to blue to pink and ultimately turns white. As the most visually striking piece of the exhibition, Google Gradient cascades to the ground, puddling at the foot of the Chapel’s stairs. Hung from the ceiling, visitors raised their heads reverently to peer at the uppermost images, catching site of the small a crucified Jesus watching over all.
Hanging from either side of the transept are Imogen Lloyd’s Everything Must Go (cactus, keys, chairs) (2016) and Everything Must Go (shanks, scissors, socks) (2016). These joyous compositions are covered with screen grabs that have been painted over in bright colors and embossed on whitewashed Perspex. Outlined in thick white paint, these objects project innocence and joie de vivre, a sort of Jean Dubuffet meets Philip Guston mashup. Lloyd’s whitewashed Perspex evokes the cleaning of shop windows—the screens behind which real objects were once displayed. By choosing to eliminate all trace of the virtual, Lloyd’s paintings imagine an internet abstracted.
Translating the language of the web into something material is ambitious to say the least. This former house of worship is saturated with questions of credibility and truth—how can a miracle be rendered concrete? Doubly aware of all the ways the e-world can feel artificial and insubstantial, nonetheless, “Whisper to me in HTML” puts forth a strong argument that it can be made real.
Whisper to me in HTML (curated by Ben Hoare) was on view with Prelim Projects at The Chapel at St. Margaret’s House in London April 14-16th, 2016.
Photos: Jasper Fry