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Programming Myth - Adam Dix and Tim Phillips

June 7, 2012 by Kay

Sumarria Lunn Gallery

25th May - 5th July 2012

'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic' Arthur C. Clarke

This exhibition brings together the work of Adam Dix and Tim Phillips as they explore the relationship between communication, reverence and power.

Drawing on influences as varied as the nostalgic aesthetic of 1950's B-movies, science fiction, communist propaganda and religious symbolism, Adam Dix imagines a parallel existence where communication technology is revered. Here the original functions of the phone mast and satellite dish are forgotten; they now appear as remnants of a bygone era, recorded in layer upon layer of oil and ink, devoid of their technological capacity, carried in processions, bowed to in ritual, and worshipped. The community is united in a collective function of social exchange through the conduit of a shaman character who harnesses their faith.

The painting process and colour palette refer to 1950s lithographic printing techniques ushered in as the Cold War brought about an explosion in communication technology. Whilst many coats of colour wash and varnish are carefully built up, the economy of marks and resonating outlines echo an ancient television set giving the glowing impression of an image through pastel colours and monochrome.

Ranging from monolithic sculptures to smaller, more personal objects Tim Phillips' work is fabricated from a mixture of traditional inlaid precious woods combined with materials such as brass, acrylic and textile. Focused on the power of visual communication, the languages of corporate, religious and occult imagery are distilled into their constituent shapes, colours, materials and patterns. Together they create a peculiar sense of overarching grandeur, instrumental throughout history in legitimising rulers and regimes, glorifying gods, and stamping the mark of authority on companies and organisations.

Phillips' sculptures resonate in Dix's parallel world, almost as though the figures depicted interact with these objects in ritual and devotion. Repeatedly featured in Dix's work is the shaman: a point of communication with the dead and the divine in many cultures. Here, these characters use redundant technology as props or symbols of their power while replacing its communicative function. Authority is assumed through objects, rituals and dress, with a similar function to the theatrical faˤade of Phillips' sculpture.

Just as two-dimensional cardboard trees and a painted cloth backdrop ask that the viewer give shape and depth to a stage show forest; the colours, materials and patterns in Phillips' work purport the illusion of grandeur. Wafer thin strips of exotic woods are enough to convince the viewer of a supposed opulence. A precedent for this can be found in venerated religious triptychs whose surfaces often conceal a structure that is less than perfect. Identifying the cloaks worn by different institutions Phillips draws them together into a precise patchwork of languages.

On being invited into Dix and Phillips' parallel world, a very real echo persists - in order to exist, authority, myth, status and legend must be communicated. Without this there would be little to revere.

For more information on the exhibition, visit Sumarria Lunn Gallery website.

View prints of Adam Dix work here.