CURA.

YURI PATTISON
the engine

The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin
17 Dec, 2020 – 6 March, 2021

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Press release

In time.

The engine is a metaphor that surrounds us, as present in the bodies of airplanes and cars as in the search engines used to access information daily, to the relentless grind of the systems of capital, the realities generated by these forces, and the possibility of the emergence of new realities when these systems fail. ‘the engine’ exposes the connections between how the virtual world informs material reality, the ways in which ideas formally explored through acts of simulation and modeling in gaming. The exhibition’s title alludes to ‘game engines’ which create the internal architecture of video games - are also applied to real-world circumstances. This solo show by Yuri Pattison at The Douglas Hyde Gallery comprises a series of newly commissioned artworks in an altering and immersive installation that spans across the two levels of Gallery.

At the centre is sun_set pro_vision (2020- 2021), an ongoing work which generates a sun simulation against an abstracted seascape in real time presented across five large video wall screens positioned on dexion1 support structures. The central screen is a top down view of the ocean, while the four surrounding screens present views from the angles “true” north, south, east, and west. The sun simulation recalls the multiple associations of sunsets and sunrises across histories - from longstanding pagan or religious rituals, to the dawning of a new age, often heralded in marketing campaigns. The seascape is illuminated by an accelerated version that matches the sun’s movement in Dublin. The image on each screen is rendered live by a game engine, with variations of every aspect - colours, waves, movement and atmospheric thickness - influenced by data fed from an environmental air quality monitor, called the uRADMonitor.

The everchanging rich violets and piercing yellows that can be displayed at any given moment recall the mesmerising and multi-instagrammed sunsets seen in heavily polluted metropolises around the world in recent years; the “beauty” of how polluted our world is becoming and how the infatuation with the new creates a collective blindness. Significantly, the title of the work, sun_set pro_vision refers to a known legal clause that specifies a particular law will cease to have effect on a specific date. ‘Sunsetting’ is a term often used in professional technology circles when a feature or website is phased out in software lifecycles. Both of these denominations lead us to envisage time as being ‘up’, and, in turn, towards the unsustainability of our modern world.

The beat pulsating from the sonic sculpture True Time Master (2019-2020) through the whole of the exhibition is from the Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC). The CSAC is a miniaturised realisation of the highly accurate atomic clock that was developed by the US Defense Department’s infamous DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) for use in satellites, military drones, shipping, data centres and for telecommunication. This precise global time is the standard that controls our modern life, from digital computing and communications to financial activities that are faster than the operation of human consciousness. It is a clock without a face or a sound. Using the clock’s frequency, Pattison has worked with a former technician from the Royal Observatory Museums in Greenwich to make it audible through a Chinese counterfeit McIntosh MC275. The MC275 is an amplifier synonymous with US technological and cultural power in the 1960s; its uncanny reproduction evokes the current anxieties surrounding Chinese geopolitical dominance and technology (for example, 5G).3 These newly translated sounds are further amplified throughout the gallery by a series of PIR insulation panels. These are fitted with transducers also acting as visual ‘bounceboards’ to reflect the shimmering colours of the sunset.

This newly commissioned body of work considers our shifting relationship with time; how networked technology has re-orientated our sense of it, and, in turn, changed our perceptions of reality. Its resonance is all the more acute with the events of the last year, where time has been reshaped on a mass scale, and words like “blursday” (referenced in the work of the same name positioned at the entrance of the gallery) are coined to describe the phenomenon of the perception of days literally folding into one another. A final allusion to note in the exhibition’s title is ‘The Engine’ as depicted in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), possibly the earliest description of a computer-like device in literature. This ‘Engine’ appears within a chapter that describes a technology obsessed society who’s misplaced endeavours have not led to any improvement to the lives of its ordinary citizens. This connection provides a reminder that artificial intelligence is inescapably predicated on human intelligence, a reminder that those modelling the future create the realities that we live in. We build the engine as it builds us.

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Installation view, the engine, Yuri Pattison, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, 2020. Photo: courtesy of the gallery 
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Installation view, the engine, Yuri Pattison, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, 2020. Photo: courtesy of the gallery 
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Installation view, the engine, Yuri Pattison, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, 2020. Photo: courtesy of the gallery 
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Installation view, the engine, Yuri Pattison, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, 2020. Photo: courtesy of the gallery 
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Installation view, the engine, Yuri Pattison, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, 2020. Photo: courtesy of the gallery 

Featured image: Installation view, the engine, Yuri Pattison, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, 2020. Photo: courtesy of the gallery

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