CONRAD SHAWCROSS

THE NERVOUS SYSTEMS (INVERTED)
16/01/2012 - 06/05/2012
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“I'm fascinated by issues to do with certainty and scientific imaginings such as the shape of the universe and movements such as string theory. I see Science as an absolute rational empirical structure which builds upon itself yet as it grows  it's actually unstable underneath, like a big tower or building that is built on precarious stilts and shifting sands.” (Conrad Shawcross)

Conrad Shawcross : The Nervous Systems (Inverted), 2011, Courtesy de l’artiste et galerie Victoria Miro, Londres, Commande et Production Mudam Luxembourg avec la collaboration de la galerie Victoria Miro, Londres © Photo : Rémi Villaggi

The interests of Conrad Shawcross are mainly focussed on scientific and philosophical questions in areas such as mathematics and epistemology. These disciplines combine in his artistic work to create pictures which, like the experimental mathematical models in a museum, make complicated connections or fundamental theoretical concepts visible so that people can experience them, but without explicitly naming them. The frequent use of wood and the sheer size of the kinetic sculptures by Conrad Shawcross also create an anachronistic effect: like gigantic machines from the early days of industrialisation they jolt and vibrate, go round and round and produce things with a direct usefulness which seems completely intangible - rather like basic scientific research.

The Nervous Systems, an installation designed specifically for the Grand Hall of the Mudam, is similar to a number of other machines created since 2003 by Shawcross, an enthusiastic sailor, which produce rope, but then usually separate the rope into its individual strands again. The impressive towering form of this metaphorical machine is reminiscent of both the large-scale technological installations of modern nuclear physics and the Spinning Jenny, the first automatic spinning machine of the industrial age. Its hexagonal structure, the double helix of the spiral staircase and the threads which converge like rays on a single point create visual associations with the latest insights and theories of science, from the analysis of the genetic sequence to string theory in hypothetical physics. The slowness of the movements also clearly articulates the theme of time, which is present in both of its possible basic forms, i.e. in the cyclical repetition of the 162 bobbins and the linear progression of the rope which is produced.

Shawcross’s The Nervous Systems thus provides an artistic statement on subjects which are on the boundary between physics and metaphysics. His mysterious machine remains enigmatic, paradoxical and fascinating.

Conrad Shawcross : The Nervous Systems (Inverted), 2011, Courtesy de l’artiste et galerie Victoria Miro, Londres, Commande et Production Mudam Luxembourg avec la collaboration de la galerie Victoria Miro, Londres © Photos : Andres Lejona

Curators
Marie-Noëlle Farcy
Clément Minighetti

With the support of