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Dark Matters

Submitted by on December 7, 2011 – 7:34 pmNo Comment

It turns out there is Man fallingfive times more material in clusters of galaxies than we would expect, it is claimed. This invisible stuff is called ‘dark matter’, a term initially coined by Fritz Zwicky who discovered evidence for missing mass in galaxies in the 1930s. There is currently much ongoing research by scientists attempting to discover exactly what this dark matter is and what effect it may have on the future of the Universe as a whole. Dark Matter could be those particles that travel faster than light and that we’d never be able to see because light would never be able to catch up with the stuff to bounce off it so that we could see it.

Dark Matters brings together the matter of darkness and therefore light. Without light there is no dark to matter about. The artists exhibiting at the Whitworth Art Gallery employed a range of technologies, media and machinery to generate an exhibition populated by half-seen spectres, visual riddles and distorted reflections. The artists used shadow, darkness and illusion to explore the themes of temporality, absence, truth, mortality and wonder.

My first encounter with the matter of darkness was with a see-through curtain made of what looked like threads of spider web. The spider web curtain flowed undulatingly, reflecting an unseen source of light into the gloom. This darkened area, set within a much larger lighter auditorium, defined its space by lack of light. A room without walls or doors but a room none the less. The undulating spider web curtain reflecting tiny drops of hidden light seemed to be just that, but move yourself into a certain undefined spot within the absence of light-defined room and a ghostly image of yourself reveals itself on the spider web light drop reflecting curtain. Your soul oscillating before your very eyes, try to touch it and you are vaporised, crimped and sold as a prawn mayonnaise sandwich in the art gallery cafe. Try to photograph your soul and you are pounced upon by a burly six foot female, who efficiently caresses your neck with her pump-twitching fingers and gently squeezes your isthmus restricting your vital blood stream to your underused brain and flop, you hit the deck. Being pulled by your feet, head banging on the steps and flung into the upside-down forest is not a pleasant experience.Shadow figure

I strolled nonchalantly into another installation which appeared to my philistinistic perception as two large carpets at right angles to each other, the middle section laying flat on the floor while each end turned up and suspended from the celling. A giant bucket with four sections cut out to allow one to enter the centre of the piece. It felt like you was enveloped in a sea of dark blue ink. Flowing this way and that, smoothly increasing in depth. The carpet structure absorbs the light rather than projects it. ‘Black Flood questions our cognitive perception and reconfirms the awe-inspiring power of darkness’.

Not content with flabbergasting our senses, a duo of guitar and cello conspired to tip sound and light into the six other superstring dimensions. Projection, shadow and sound challenged one’s grip on what is or is not real. The final projection depicting ‘we’ll having a party when Thatcher dies’ skeletoid.

A white-walled hall housed a glass model circulating enormous shadows that danced around the room to silent orchestration. Shadowy monsters fought with translucent heroes who need no help. I did surreptitiously take a photograph of the shadowy figures frolicking zestfully without being removed from the auditorium by the over-zealous curator.

Still lifeThatcher

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