Thomson & Craighead
“Never Odd or Even”
24May- 6 July 2013
In London on the ever-developing Eastcastle Street, the Carroll/Fletcher gallery have opened their recent show ‘Never Odd Or Even’ by Thomson & Craighead, the British born London based art duo. Carroll/Fletcher gallery has had some very creative exhibitions of late, a highlight being their previous show ‘Brand Innovations for Ubiquitous Authorship’. And they have not disappointed with the follow-up.
I leave one of London’s rarest of events, the sun shining, to enter the gallery space, where internet and information rules, I am greeted by the most gentle of Muzak playing – on display is one of mankind’s greatest inventions – the karaoke machine. The screen for the karaoke machine, instead of displaying such songs as ‘Sweet home Alabama’ and ‘I will survive’, displays text from Nigerian 419 SPAM emails with the words lighting up in time with the track. The audience is encouraged to finish the work by taking to the microphone. I decide to show pity to the lone gallery assistant and more respect to Thomson & Craighead than to offer up my dog screech of a voice.
The adjacent wall is plastered with red and white posters that resemble the backdrop to the photography section of the red carpet. The posters are printed with text taken from tweets that have been collected within a one mile radius of the gallery. This includes post such as ‘My bum is numb’, ‘Is Thatcher dead?!’ and ‘Don’t see how Muslims can wear burka’s when its this hot’. Thomson & Craighead offer here a ‘Poetic snapshot of the area’s social networking traffic’ however, it seems more to display the throwaway becoming permanent, placed on a pedestal and the implications of peoples’ flippant thoughts in their social media lifestyles.
Thomson & Craighead play with information via modern technology throughout this show, trying to ‘ask fundamental questions about what it is to be human’, while adding a certain charm and poetry to such cold subject matter. This certain charm is displayed in ‘Trigger Happy’ their 1998 piece in which the viewer is encouraged to take the game controller to play the well known space invaders game, however instead of saving the world from the ever speeding up and uniformed alien invasion the viewer destroys the text of Michel Foucault’s essay ‘What is an Author?’
The rest of this very well curated show has other alluring works addressing information about the world filtered through the prism of the World Wide Web such as ‘Beacon’ an old-school railway sign constantly relaying live internet searches as they are being made around the world. And ‘Belief’ in which a video projection shows a number of online videos addressing beliefs and faith in gods, cults and myths; while a projected compass on the floor shows you the host placement in the world. This piece grabs you and no sooner have you started watching it it’s over like a lonely evening YouTube binge.
Once in the show it is hard not to fall completely and totally into the world of Thomson & Craighead. All the works on display send you somewhere very intriguing and this show is not to be seen in a hurry as Thomson & Craighead’s world is not a straightforward map to read but they can guarantee a fascinating journey.
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-Contributed by Robert Strang