A new exhibition at Site Gallery hopes to answer the question: how do we blend the physical and digital space? Permanent Distraction by Rafaël Rozendaal is running until 23rd December. Rozendaal’s work utilises technology and the tools afforded to us by the internet to collate, create and collect digital art. When walking into the space an immense, almost spiritual calm envelops me. It is little surprise that Rozendaal’s other creative practises include tapestries and lenticular – I always find these choices of media redolent of a religious space. Like the vestibule of a cathedral, the light and its interplay engenders a meditative state. Awe for the algorithm.
A series of projections on the wall relay the work, which Rafaël created as websites over a number of years. Initially I take a seat on one of the benches and drink in the images; abstract forms, shifting perspectives and geometric sprites. Others dance towards the images and their shadows creep up from the bottom. We are always compelled to interrupt a projection, to dance in the same light. Here is no different. The design of the space and projectors limits the encroachment of the shadow, accentuating the barrier between physical and digital. Some things are forever out of reach.
A safe space doesn’t need to be four walls, a ceiling and a floor. The same is true of a gallery. Our world has changed, it has forced us to consider new ways to bring art to the people. For many institutions, the internet and the use of screens have been a lazy attempt at mimicry. Not so here. Screens have enabled connection, fundamentally shifted our work-life balance, but brought frustration along with them. The panacea of increased connectivity has brought fatigue. The novelty worn thin. We are all on mute.
So how do we blend the physical and the digital? Primarily through realising that mindfulness is not the same as stillness. The constant motion of the images and their transformations is precisely what creates calm here. In a constantly shifting world we need art such as this that finds new ways to shock and to soothe.
- Words by
- Steven Allen
- Featured in
- Art picks