A new art exhibition about nothing!

Published: 28 November 2013 at 13:43

Anglia Ruskin hosts Null Object, a sculpture wired to Gustav Metzger’s brain

Have you ever wondered what “nothing” looks like?  If so, a new art exhibition at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge provides a possible answer.

‘Null Object: Gustav Metzger thinks about nothing’, a new artwork by London Fieldworks duo Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson, is on display at the Ruskin Gallery until 23 January.

Gilchrist and Joelson connected computers and a “brain-machine interface” to an industrial manufacturing robot.  The robot sculpted the Portland stone as acclaimed German artist Gustav Metzger, a former Cambridge School of Art student, attempted to think of nothing.

The form of the void created by the robot was derived from an EEG (electroencephalogram) recording of Metzger’s brain.  To give the wavelengths of Metzger’s neural activity a physical form, the recording was associated with an extensive database of EEG recordings generated between 1999-2012.

This data was translated into control instructions for a KUKA manufacturing robot to carve out the shapes from the interior of a block of stone, creating the void space.

In addition to the sculpture, the exhibition includes a new video work documenting the process, presented across 10 screens, and a new publication Null Object: Gustav Metzger thinks about nothing.

Published by Black Dog Publishing, it includes an introduction by the artists, a text by Gustav Metzger, and four essays by writers from the fields of literature, art, science and technology exploring the implications of Null Object’s production process, including how it reflects the gradual disconnection between manual labour and commercial production.

Entry to the exhibition, which makes full use of the gallery’s digital screens, is free.  Further details are available at www.anglia.ac.uk/ruskingallery

Meanwhile, the Ruskin Gallery will host the launch of a new book Visualise: Making Art in Context, on Friday, 29 November (4.30-6pm).

The book brings together essays by artists featured in the Visualise public art programme (www.visualisecambridge.org), which took place across Cambridge from autumn 2011 until summer 2012.  The Visualise programme was managed by Futurecity, with Bronac Ferran the guest curator.

Among the essays are newly commissioned pieces by Liliane Lijn, Eduardo Kac, Tom Hall, Alan Sutcliffe and Ernest Edmonds, and a previously unpublished holograph by Gustav Metzger.