Machines Do Not Make Us Into Machines – Sarah Morris

On Tuesday I went to see Sarah Morris’s first solo UK show in six years. It was at one of my favourite galleries on Bermondsey street, the White Cube Gallery. I love this gallery because of the architecture and the ability for the art to completely take over the space every time I go there. It is always free so I recommend you pop into this gallery any time you get a moment in London Bridge.

The exhibition featured paintings, films as well as the artists first sculptural work. The exhibition reflects the artists interest in networks, typologies, architecture, language and the city. I visit this exhibition because not only does it relate to my dissertation subject, It also is a great reflection of the fact art is transforming into something different now. Contemporary art has the ability to have entirely new meanings and look completely new due to technology advances.

Displaying an architecture of colourful and abstract forms, Morris’s paintings play on the viewers’ sense of visual recognition. She incorporates a wide range of references, from the graphic identity of multinational corporations and the structure of urban transport systems (for example the TFL tube map for London) to the iconography of maps, GPS technology, as well as the movement of people within urban areas.

Her new series of ‘Sound Graph’ paintings continue to utilize the language of American abstraction (of minimalism and pop) while their forms are derived from the artist’s sound files, using a speech from audio recordings as a starting point for the compositions.
Featuring hard-edged geometric shapes, the compositions in the paintings progress in patterns that appear to fluctuate across the canvas, creating a sense of volumetric increase and decline, like a visual analogy of coding.

While derived from fragments of conversation, Morris’s paintings also reference concrete elements: digital files, the lights, the information on bar charts and flow diagrams or structures of mapping. This is her way of highlighting that language is merely a construct, particularly in relation to art in our ‘post-truth’ age, they connect with the history of abstraction while remaining conceptual in their production process. Language becomes image, evidence of the impossibility of painting ever being truly abstract.

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