Luke McCreadie, Plan for Untitled (mobile), 2015. Courtesy the artist.
Project Space: Luke McCreadie: Be in the air, but not be air, be in the no air
7 September - 12 December 2015
Language has gone, left us forever, through some trick of time, it happened unnoticed. We turned slowly into silent, private, sentient objects, more aware of our own edges and surfaces than ever. (…) The residue of letters, just shapes, thrust into obscurity by their ruination (…) but if I am thinking this, in this language, if I even vaguely recognise the shapes of letters out of the pitch black in my mind, it must still exist, in the minds of others too?
Jerwood Visual Arts presents a body of new works by Newcastle-upon-Tyne based artist, Luke McCreadie. Be in the air, but not be air, be in the no air, is comprised of three elements: a series of wall-mounted ceramic shelf sculptures; a large hanging mobile; and a new film work. Expanding on his interest in a loss of verbal language, McCreadie’s commission stems from an investigation into the process of translation that takes place when the form and structure of language morphs from immaterial and verbal, into sculptural and material existence.
In the wall mounted ceramic sculptures, McCreadie revisits his longstanding interest in art history and modes of display. Here, the division between gallery furniture and art object are confused. The object and the shelf merge, becoming indivisible from one another. Letters shoot out from the shelf and object as though growing through them. The shelved objects are references to well known, almost ubiquitous, motifs from art history, including Constantin Brancusi’s Bird In Space (1923) and Marcel Duchamp's Fountain (1917). In selecting them, and rendering such objects indistinguishable from the shelves and words, McCreadie addresses the readings, narratives and institutions that come to surround art objects.
The hanging mobile similarly takes its point of departure from a particular moment in art history. McCreadie utilizes the shapes and colours of Modernist sculpture alongside recognisable symbols often used in notes and diagrams. The arrows, ellipses and stars neither point to, nor mark, anything. In this 3D sketch, stripped of all content, the symbols ordinarily used to highlight or aid understanding endlessly rotate, suggesting a sense of contingency and lack of stability.
McCreadie’s fragmentary film, follows a group of characters who wear 12 inch vinyl records as masks and communicate only in music. Partly inspired by the song Free Will and Testament by Robert Wyatt, from which the exhibition takes its title, the film illustrates an imagined moment where communication is entirely musical. The characters embark upon a pilgrimage to an old and obscure library. This library has no system of order, no catalogue or index. Instead, it simply contains piles of dangerously stacked books and notes. Here, as with the works above, McCreadie is set on questioning how an order is given to a mass of historical material. The film also uses traditional techniques of explanation in film as its material, aerial shots used to give an overview of a whole story, mixed with perpendicular shots which describe in detail particular parts of that whole story. This tension between the part and the whole, the known and the unknown, the ordered and chaotic, the word or sound and the image, are central to all the works on display.