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Constance Critique no. 3

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Nature, nurture, node 

Review by Eliza Burke

Nick Smithies, Glitch Glade, 6 channel synthesised sound, fibre optics, multiple projections and found objects assemblage, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist.

Nature, nurture, node is a show with three concepts, three artists and three spaces. The show’s curator, Erin Davidson carves out a conceptual terrain that offers a range of perspectives on our contemporary relationship to nature and to our increasingly built and digital environments. Each of the artists offers a unique perspective culminating in an enriching show.

Davidson’s placement of the works throughout the three galleries creates a narrative flow from exterior to interior spaces.  Thom Buchanan’s explorations of the built environment in the front space makes for an easy transition from street to gallery, and the sense of a city stripped bare. The industrial quality of these works creates a nice dialogue with the rough interior surfaces of Constance, although the installation of the works in a linear format is perhaps too clean.

In the foyer space, Meaghan Roberts’ paintings relieve the hard edges of Buchanan’s works, through a heightened sense of colour and the familiarity of landscape. Despite her reference to traditional landscape, the collisions of paint and perspectives in Roberts’ works also evoke a supernatural quality as they shift between abstractions of the microscope and more distant views.

The alien territories of Roberts’ paintings prepare the ground for Nick Smithies’ Glitch Glade installed in the closeted Paddy Lyn gallery. This work for me is the literal and conceptual core of the show, both seductive in its darkness and the promise of nurture and alienating in its uncanny mimicry of ‘natural’ space and sound.

I confess to getting stuck in Glitch Glade, fascinated with its looped simulacra and perpetual exchange of imitative and deconstructive elements. Such was the effect of this work, that on moving back through the gallery, I found Roberts’ and Buchanan’s works less actively engaged in questions of nurture or the human/nature relation. Although these questions are tentatively referenced in the threat of the catastrophic in Roberts works and the ghostly layers of Buchanan’s, I found the tripartite concept of nature, nurture, node most fully rendered in Smithies’ work.

For me, Glitch Glade gave this show a pulse. It compelled me to reflect on our capacity to tune into the rhythms of the natural world, the growing complexity of relationships between synthetic and organic experiences, and the seduction of our digital and constructed environments.