Kate V Robertson
25 Apr – 4 May 2019
Govan Project Space, Glasgow
Building on previous installations, Robertson uses the gallery walls to mark out a space where materiality acts as imagination; where the persuasive power of perception collides with the representational systems of contemporary culture.
As digital spaces increasingly become the default setting for all kinds of human experience, we grow ever more detached from the implicit truths of materiality and physicality that have stood as cornerstones of the human condition. The digital realm is one littered with the vocabulary of a physical world – surfing, navigating, opening windows – yet we have nurtured within it an entirely imaginal understanding of spatial and temporal movement. We step back from an image by pinching our fingertips together, and nudge the present moment one step into the future at the press of a button. All the while, intricately programmed haptic and visual stimuli convince us of the grand illusion that these perceptual meanderings remain tethered to a physical existence.
Robertson’s work directly addresses that deception. Through its surfaces and imagery, this immersive installation celebrates its own materiality, teasing our expectations of depth while drawing attention to the materials that were plucked from the brink of obsolescence by the artist and repurposed for her art. The whole space serves as a point of arrival for both artist and viewer. Robertson’s journey through practice has reflected on the technological and social infrastructure of late Capitalism that has so profoundly altered the course of human experience, while the viewer arrives at something of a gateway; an access point to a virtual dimension made physical.
Within this physical space one may consider the distinctions between the world of perception known to the individual, and the material world that we all share. With the walls of the installation lit from behind, the internal light source places it squarely in the gaze of the digital consumer: “We confront a back-lit work as we would a screen…the mechanism responsible for generating the meaning of the work is present only by implication. As viewers of the back-lit, we appreciate something that has been created for us.” - Anthony Huberman
In this context, Robertson is questioning illusions of depth and the stability of built structures. Her layered imagery advertises many potential departures from this place of manufactured tension, but it is never clear when or how the escape might be made. The material forms in the space seem more concerned with their own precariousness than with upholding the systems for which they were constructed.