2009 James Taylor Gallery, London
Pitch, Roll, Yaw
3 Site specific computer installations with sound
Concept & design: Gibson / Martelli
Three site responsive works created for the Dumb Waiter show which deconstruct the thresholds of a space in the James Taylor Gallery.
As it happens, there is no Dumb Waiter in the building, and one could hardly be imagined, but it remains a useful curatorial metaphor for passing from one environ to another. Each artist is given space to develop a site-specific installation, and in some cases were asked to produce an idiosyncratic response to the space. In Harold Pinter's play of the same name, which takes place in a basement room, it appears that two hit men, Ben and Gus, are awaiting "orders" regarding their next unknown victim. Simultaneously comic and threatening
requests emanate from the unseen operator of the dumbwaiter who appears to be "senior" partner Ben's intended victim at the end of the play. This exercise in semantics and menace corresponds with much of the work in the exhibition.
The word 'dumb' in Dumb Waiter implies a stupidity and/or muteness. Yet within this pejorative term of abuse there is a resistance. Muteness has power: it refuses dialogue. Much of the artwork here exploits this paradox. Language is obfuscated, while sound/noise disguises primal anxieties and architectural interventions demarcate zones. The obscuring of meaning by language is explored in the installations of Margaret O'Brien, Richard Ducker and Lee Holden where they operate at the pre-linguistic, with Kristevian visceral utterances. Bruno Martelli & Ruth Gibson (igloo) creates installations of virtual landscapes that conflate the imagined with the real as they develop ever-overlapping simulacrums through the language of the video game. Tod Hanson and Alex Schady respond architecturally to the space, using direct interventions, getting their hands dirty with the stuff of the real world, often with a charming wit or Baroque exuberance, while Denise Hawrysio uses the fly poster to create a bricolage of repetition. In the mix of this is Neil Bromwich and Zoe Walker inflatable landscape that addresses socio-political borders – both cultural and national.
In a number of Hollywood films, the hero escapes via the dumbwaiter, thus travelling efficiently from one floor [set] to the next. The exhibition's curatorial oversight is just this intention of moving between one total experience to another within the space of the building. In this way, the viewer could perceive themselves as the dumbwaiter, travelling silently, unseen, between the rooms/zones, developing a dialogue as one passes through to the next. Alternately, as in Pinter's play, it could be the curator who is the dumbwaiter, delivering increasingly unhinged instructions to the artists. When Gus leaves the room to get a drink of water in the bathroom, the dumbwaiter's speaking tube whistles. Ben listens carefully. We gather from his replies that their victim has arrived and is on his way to the room. Ben shouts for Gus, who is still out of the room. The door that the target is supposed to enter from flies open, Ben rounds on it with his gun, and Gus enters, stripped of his jacket, waistcoat, tie and gun. There is a long silence as the two stare at each other before the curtain comes down.
- Richard Ducker 2009