modus operandi

22 July - 19 August 2000

modus operandi introduces the work of two artists for whom process is an integral part of their practice. Antony Hall and Jillian Simms both employ a scientific process of enquiry as a key to their expression of ideas. The title of the show itself refers to the way in which a person works or the way a machine operates, and the artwork on display tracks a path through the well-charted ground of the relationship between art and science.

The work of Antony Hall pursues a relationship between nature and technology, and establishes a neutral vantage point for viewers to observe the progress. On the ground floor we are invited to ponder over a series of mouldy coffee cups on a microscopic level. At once repelling and fascinating, the cultures transform into a whole arena for events and play host to a zoo of minuscule insects. Over time the surface of the coffee mould becomes a velvety garden, a diverse and alien landscape populated by strange beings. Hall enlightens our experience with a written account of his own observations over the duration of the project.

His work has the outward appearance of a series of scientific experiments, when in fact they are as much about undertaking and observing the experiment as the resulting conclusion. In another experiment he uses knowledge gained by observing a spider’s methods to spin an imitation web, following to the letter the methods used by the spider.

From the micro to the macro Hall explores other worlds and phenomena in a benevolent manner. On the second floor he has assembled a complex arrangement for projecting an image of swimming daphnia onto the wall. The intricacy of this apparatus reconstructs that of actual life systems in nature, delicately balanced in symbiosis. Like a benign god, Hall presides over miniature worlds uncovering the results of his investigations for us the viewer.

Jillian Simms introduces a making process into her artwork. She has filled a room with melting light bulbs that slowly drip off their flexes over the course of the exhibition. The work starts off in one state and changes during the course of the show into another. The lights switch on and off in series, slowly playing out in silence and filling the room with muffled heat and light. This piece is constructed and displayed not as an experiment with an end result but as a metaphor for more personal concerns.

The accompanying statement lends the work a poignancy and weight: to be trapped by the crowd or to be isolated alone is my eternal dilemma.