The new solo installation project from artist Matt Hope is going to close at Saamlung gallery in Hong Kong. For his first solo presentation in Asia after five years working in Beijing, the artist created a disorienting sensation of contrasting experience with an apparatus that simultaneously focuses the viewer on the physical experience of the gallery space while also transforming it into a mediatized event. Entitled Spectrum Divide, the installation draws parallels between machine vision and human blindness.
Matt Hope will bring complete darkness to the Saamlung space—at least to the human eye. At one end of the gallery is constructed a bank of lightning sources numbering in the tens of thousands that emit a spectrum of light invisible to the naked eye. In terms of the vision of the machine world, however, the room is actually as bright as day. Certain kinds of cameras in the gallery are able to provide an illuminated video signal that seems to effectively double the architectural space of the installation: half bathed in floodlights and half under the cover of darkness.
This project at Saamlung marks the artist’s first solo presentation in Asia, though his work will be familiar to Hong Kong audiences. Matt Hope last appeared in the city under the aegis of “The Border Show,” a temporary exhibition project that took place in a cargo container storage site in the New Territories in early 2011. For that installation, Hope collaborated with Jon Phillips on Laoban Soundsystem: Infinite Baffle, which transformed an empty cargo container into the rear volume of a massive speaker system.
Other recent major outings in Asia include the installation People’s Power Station, presented at the Chengdu Biennial, for which Hope used interaction with components from the public outdoor exercise machines installed across mainland Chinese cities to generate electricity; the sculpture Helioscope, exhibited at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, which transforms light into sound with the help of the audience; and his ongoing sculptural series Towers, shown in “Get it Louder,” for which the artist reassembles incompatible mechanical and electrical components into often useless and occasionally threatening pylons.
Spectrum Divide similarly relies on the audience to provide at least half of the equation it suggests. Both blinded and enabled by Hope’s transformations of the gallery architecture and the visual regime it represents, the visitor to this installation project is simultaneously split into two parallel worlds: the flesh of the body and its mediated image.
About the artist:
Matt Hope (b. 1971 in London; lives and works in Beijing and Los Angeles) works as an engineer of the aesthetically unpredictable and conceptually unsound, assembling large-scale agglomerations of steel, custom hardware, machinery, speaker components, and odds and ends culled from wholesales electronics markets. Once involved in the production of sound systems and electronic music for the English underground party scene, he is currently based in Beijing’s Caochangdi district, working with globalized manufacturing networks and local fabrication workshops.