‘Entropy’ by Divided We Fall @ Eiger Studios – Art Festival on Sat 24th May 2014
Curated and organised by Bruce Davies
The concept of ‘Entropy’ is not one that sprang to mind when I trudge into Eiger studios on a hopelessly grey afternoon. In fact, as well as sceptical, I arrive quite ignorant of what ‘Divided We Fall’s’ curator Bruce Davies’ vision is at all until we met and he, to my relief explains the physics behind the idea. The all day event, which you could call a micro festival of sorts centre’s on the idea of applying the laws of thermo-dynamics to the experimental aural and visual world of art. Bruce explains the theory behind Entropy as the building of pressure within a vessel to the point where it is thrown into disorder and chaos. This particular instance of Entropy was to be housed within the (stylishly exposed) brick and mortar of the studios, unfolding gradually throughout the day, as each artist portrays their particular take on this idea. As a mere laymen in the more experimental side- the kooky, and quite possibly high older brother of the art world- I figured my naivety provided a fresh canvas from which the various displays could communicate their message; I also hoped to dispel a few discernment’s that often accompany this quite select practice which lead to premature judgement and dismissal.
Although I don’t spend the whole day at the festival, the few hours I experienced hopefully provide some enlightening random sampling of the diversity that Bruce encourages through a wide range of mediums. Just after my arrival, I am informed Eilon Morris is beginning another round of his live performance art pieces and so I step into a darkened studio room where, on a slightly raised stage, stands a low table covered in miscellany; a small red lamp, coffee mugs, thermos, a newspaper. Morris covers a whole variety of performative genres in his work including the use of percussion and film, but today’s piece proves much more low-key. Much of the performance centres on Morris telling a fractured story involving a ‘dual carriageway and a flyover’, peppered with the repetitive motions of sitting and standing, crossing and uncrossing his legs, and the recurring narrative motif of ‘the flyover’. It takes me a while to understand, but Morris is exploring memory, and the fractured chaos it appears in. Morris also plays on the sensory element of nostalgia; he picks up an unusual mouth instrument which sparks a tangent about losing something, and finding it again, the aural element of the instrument acting as a visceral catalyst to entropic processes that form memory within the mind.
In the next room is Alisia Casper’s slightly more conventional approach to entropy; her performance as a singer songwriter stands besides her own illustrative work, which lines an entire wall. Bruce earlier explained this utilisation of multiple disciplines as a way of the artists informing their own work, which should be viewed as one entity. Casper’s smooth melancholic vocals and introspective lyrics reveal the vulnerability of confronting one’s own mortality, Casper drawing inspiration from her own experiences as a chronic illness sufferer. Her illustrations also reveal this exploration of ‘entropy’ as something both comforting and frightening, the almost fairytale figures accompanied by a darker morbidity, ‘death’ as she describes, ‘being the catalyst’.
Various other encounters throughout the day are similarly diverse; Blood Stereo a family outfit now based in Brighton perform an entropic display of noise distortion using the element of randomness which recalls a particularly punk rock aesthetic. Disfigured recordings of both instrument and voice growl and screech from the main amps and their daughter Elka is also enlisted to whip round the room with a separate and again random cassette tape. The tapes she plays are randomly decided by the roll of a dice, which throws the sounds further around the room, giving it a surreal mobility. Their sound is gutsy, guttural and perhaps most accurately manifests the idea of entropy in our most visceral understanding of its physics.
Adam Young also stands out with his live art piece; held in the main atrium of the studios his performance is curious from the beginning. Laid out is a bucket of blue chalk, a coil of rusted springs on a rope that lays dormant like some kind of industrial serpent, and a rather large sledgehammer. Young proceeds to fling two packets of what appear to be (EXXXtra Strong) mints into the stratosphere, which land chaotically around the space. Young then takes off his socks and…. every other article of clothing, and dips his hands very thoroughly into the chalk bucket, coating them like some kind of cleansing ritual. Minutes later he coats himself entirely in the chalk, a big blue imposing mass amidst the passivity of the watching crowd (later he tells me of the colours significance- ‘we are our own god’, recalling the spiritual value of this colour in several religions). Young stalks the room; sledgehammer in hand and suddenly stops, swinging the hunk of metal down upon a random mint, obliterating it to dust. This continues, and I continue to squirm slightly in my seat. Young exploits this atmosphere, stopping in front of an audience member and locking eyes; I can see the guy’s jaw muscles tense. Confrontational stuff. He later takes the springs off the rope one by one, tossing them into a bucket, often missing, his aim a helpless randomness. This chain then becomes a tool to flagellate himself, whipping into his back, disturbing chalk dust and gradually turning the skin raw, redirecting his focus of destruction unto himself. The entropic atmosphere is intensified by a cacophony of radio broadcasting, voices from radio 4 layered by a loop pedal. The insular atmosphere, perhaps self indulgent until now, recalls the notion of Young being his own god is jarred. The chaotic background noise of the radio, reporting by chance on the country’s political dissonance, places Adam’s performance within a wider context, fracturing the isolation of his performance and connecting with a larger macrocosm of entropy in the socio-political world.
Other artists showcased at Entropy:
The variety in the performances crucially displays the diversity of the artists’ visions, a creative collage that expresses a platform of encouragement and expression. The disorder Bruce encourages seems to also manifest the idea that through this collective chaos, which at first can seem arbitrary and alienating, the artists ultimately prescribe their own meaning through their work, sharing the chaos with us.