9 Events at StudioRCA

10 March 2016 to 31 March 2016 | 9.30am – 5.30pm

Open 12–5pm Saturdays, Closed Sundays

Tina O'Connell and Neal White in association with Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp

Tina O'Connell and Neal White present 9 Events, a series of experiments and observations, talks and films drawn from their on-going artistic interest in the raw resources that are a key index of wealth in a market based society – from oil to diamonds and gold. The work is made in the context of emerging ideas of environmental and geological change within the flood of unchecked global capital.

As with other works and projects undertaken by the artists, the space is used as a platform through which temporality can be explored. In this sense, the use of the RCA's Dyson exhibition space and its wider context for the presentation on objects or artefacts is reconfigured through perspectives of energy, action and reaction, collapse and control, via simulation, derivation, extraction and exchange.

The structure of the proposal is based loosely on 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, a series of performances held at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York in 1966. 9 Evenings is remembered as a pivotal moment in the history of art and science, bringing together artists and engineers who later become involved in Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), including Billy Klüver, David Tudor, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman.

In the spirit of 9 Evenings, 9 Events will bypass the display of static objects, preferring instead a collaborative format where art, experimentation, performative and epistemic objects, and discourse come together over a period of two weeks. Each of the nine events is part of a developing project to map an anthropocentric table of basic elements on which humans are dependent, for energy or culture, and the variation in these needs.

Tina O'Connell is an Irish artist living and working in London. She completed her MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art, London, before taking another postgraduate degree in Marseilles, France. Following this she undertook a prestigious Henry Moore Fellowship in Sculpture at Winchester School of Art. She since completed residencies at; La Friche Belle de Mai (Marseilles), 18th St Arts Complex (Los Angeles) and IMMA, Ireland. O’Connell’s solo exhibitions include; Templebar Gallery (Dublin), Belltable Gallery (Limerick), Project Arts Centre (Dublin), Kunstbunka (Germany), Spacex Gallery (Exeter, UK), College des Irelandais (Paris), Limerick City Gallery (Limerick) and The Jerwood Gallery (London). She has worked on a number of high profile commissions, and has received many awards, from the Lorne (Slade School of Art) to British and Irish Arts Council. She has completed three recent International commissions; a new collaborative work for a Sculpture Biennale, Germany (2012); a public art commission for Washington DC Arts and Humanities Commission Centenary Cherry Blossom Festival (2012) for Golden Mountain, as part of the TULCA Contemporary Arts Festival in Galway, Ireland (2013) and a commission for Objectif Exhibitions (2015).

Neal White is an artist and a Professor of Media Art. Exploring artist led structures and developing experimental systems set in the context of their making – from scientific laboratories to artist archives, urban public space or concealed spaces, he has undertaken International commissions in Washington DC and Germany, the Centre for Land Use Interpretation, USA and with Arts Catalyst UK. White frequently collaborates with artists and writers, academics and architects, from N55 (DK) to John Latham (UK). He had a joint show with Latham in 2014 at Portikus and co-curated Dark Places at John Hansard Gallery (UK) in 2009. He has exhibited widely, including; Objectif Exhibitions (2015), The Whitechapel Gallery (2015), 5x5 Washington DC (2012), Bildhauser Symposium, Heidenheim, Germany (2010–12), Apexart, New York (2010), FACT Liverpool (2008), Barbican Gallery (2005), Henry Moore Institute (2005), The Natural History Museum, London (2003) and Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1998). He also publishes critical texts on related issues and was a founding Director of Soda (1997–2002) and a Director of O+I, (formerly Artist Placement Group) from 2007–9. He is currently working on an artist placement with Antony Hudek at Objectif Exhibitions in Antwerp (2016-) following his recent exhibition ‘Sites of Construction and Excavation’ in November which featured the work of Tina O’Connell.

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Working together at Objectif Exhibitions with curator Antony Hudek, Tina O’Connell, Neal White and PhD student Dominic Walker examined deep time as explored by artist’s collectives and groups. Taking this as a starting point for the Centre of Centres, White’s on going project with Objectif, the research evolved into a proposal for an excavated monument to the Diamond Trade in Antwerp based on the vast spiralling forms that symbolise this massive global trade and its vast scales of extraction.

This idea is at the heart of ‘Deep Freezer’ developed by Tina O’Connell who has worked closely with White and is fascinated by time and material form in sculpture. Here at Dyson, key elements of the installation are deconstructed and reworked utilising units and samples of the residue left from oil production, bitumen – a material central to O’Connell’s work for a number of years. In particular the molds and forms used to create ‘Deep Freezer’ form a series of further experiments, including drop pieces that explore how bitumen’s material state pushes our own perceptions of time in relation to form. This includes an experiment led by O’Connell with research chemists at Reading University documenting the effects of liquid nitrogen on a sample of bitumen as it thaws slowly, linking the perceptual limits of our own senses with larger scale hyper events – such as environmental change (Morton). Other works include experiments developed by O’Connell and White for the Dyson space. 

Further elements of the installation in Antwerp included seismic data drawn from the world’s largest global sensor that monitors nuclear explosions through seismic activity. This data obtained by the research collective ‘Office of Experiments’ (OoE, founded by White in 2004) from the UK Atomics Weapons Establishment; AWE Blacknest, is made audible as this Seismic data is translated to resonant frequencies by programmer, artist and composer Anna Troisi. Part of OoE’s work with artist Rob Smith and Anna Troisi, this project examines the potential of a global scale sculptural network.

Dealing with events in the context of the object and hyperobject, O’Connell and White make reference to the legacy of John Latham, whose own artworks link together time with incidental practice part of APG (Artist Placement Group) philosophy that Latham founded with Barbara Steveni among others in 1966. References to incidental events and the value given to found materials, and artefacts are further addressed in ‘Entombed Archaeological Objects’ – an object taken from the aftermath of the London Riots in 2011. This critical link between artistic and critical social engagements will be further developed through an ‘Incidental Meeting’ on March 18th, organised with Barbara Steveni and addressing questions of ‘unfinished business’. An additional visit to Flat Time House with Henry Meyrick-Hughes in April further extends the opportunity for students to engage with these ideas. Other talks will be announced both at Dyson and the RCA Studios where additional works are being shown.

Drawing attention to perceptual limits and environmental and geological change, the work here both draws out sensorial responses to the world around us, and is made in the context of an examination of art that operates across both temporal and spatial scales. This examination of art includes the potential of epistemic things, that is knowledge developed by artist that can contribute to critical questions facing artists and their role in society. The artist propose these events are not seen in isolation at one moment in time, but are an examination of how art as an epistemic thing becomes part of larger systems. Whilst the work refers to 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, a series of performances held at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York in 1966, remembered as a pivotal moment in the history of art and science, here they reworks arts power in relationship to the agenda of science, technology and progress direction towards events that we know are irreversible.

Through 2015/16, the School of Fine Art at the RCA invites collaborating curators and curatorial agencies to present projects at StudioRCA Riverlight, in Nine Elms and in the Dyson Gallery, Battersea, relating to the themes of the Visual Cultures Lecture Series, Rise Up & Envision – (to develop a cultural and contextual awareness of global transformations.)