Zabludowicz Collection is pleased to present an Invites exhibition by Robert Cervera – his first solo show in London. Working across sculpture, video and music, Cervera looks at the materiality and processes used to contain formless assets such as air, water or data.
Approached as a sculptural object, the exhibition site was created from the artist’s ongoing research into industrial structures such as water reservoirs and data centres. Incorporating materials from computer processing builds, such as perforated panels and PC fans, Cervera simulates the staging of a data centre. The exhibition space is completely dark, with the only illumination provided by the floating projected film and small fans. Navigating the space becomes a sensorial experience.
The installation is grounded by Cervera’s moving image work To Vent (2021). The film is set to music created using the sounds of air blown through liquid cooling pipes and composed with live coding software, and depicts garden snails attempting to pass through a computer venting panel. Just like the punch card coding used in early computers, the snails decide which holes to go through or ignore in a simple 0/1 decision strictly determined by sensitivity.
The same vented panelling is used in the installation across the entrance into the exhibition space, obscuring the film by showing it through a punctured lens. As viewers move around the sculptural work, the textured concrete floor – created by the artist pushing concrete through a similar type of perforated panel – subdued lighting and droning audio combine to confuse the senses. Just as the snails do, the audience moves through perforations to navigate the textures in the exhibition with a new sensorial compass.
To Vent reappraises the physicality of the digital world. A data centre becomes the installation site, the liquidity of concrete becomes a textured floor, and code becomes contorting snails. A meditative look at the shifting dynamic between the natural world and data infrastructures, Cervera’s material exploration traverses mediums in an effort to make visible the intangible systems around us.