(Published in Realtime 104.)
At the leafy fringe of Camperdown Park, ICAN’s newest show layers their trademark incongruity with a layer of refined anachronism. Filet électronique/island is a genteel collection of post-suburban artefacts in the very urban fringe. Either a contemporary salon apocalypticism, or some future archaeological reconstruction unstuck in time; Whatever — This shopfront stands out of the brown and imperturbable line-up of decent life like Mad Max in crinolette.
Emily Morandini’s piece is the filet one, and has the virtue of a completely self-descriptive name. Round filet laces nets threaded with copper needlework, punctuated at the ends by batteries and speakers, and emitting a treble whine.
Yep, networks, right angles, minute interconnected fibres. Craft had ’em before mass electronics. Check, check and check. You remember the hyperbolic crochet reef, where dainty handicraft recalls raw nature? This is the yang to that yin, a stitched homage to circuitry over coral, courtly handicraft for the post-technological parlour.
Two octaves below, Peter Blamey’s “Island” also hums, and occasionally squeals. This originates in a different future, long after the anthropocene. It’s not needlepoint, or anything else from CRAFT magazine. Blamey liberates himself from the conventions of traditional handicraft by participating in the plastic, evolving genre of repurposing illegally dumped crap off the street.
A bouquet of found circuit boards open leaf-wise, with machine-drilled pores and copper-etched capillaries. This is one part robotic ikebana to two spontaneously generated silicon organism. The surface is dusted with faint fuzz of copper floss, moving in the air-currents, and it squeals as you brush it, like an electric touch-me-not.
The piece itself is embedded in the flows of that neo-ecology, the flow of mineral waste digesting in the urban metabolism. Its body is scrap accretions of once-were appliances. This assemblage of motherboards and speakers is powered parodically, circuitously: Electricity from a solar lampshade wrapping an incandescent light-bulb, a detrivore feeding off oil in travesty of photosynthesis. Conductive cilia wave in the ambient radio fields, recycling electromagnetic waste to, into mindless warbling.
Where the connectivity in Morandini’s piece is punning, verbal and personal, this is direct, physical, and inhuman, the waste fields of a million appliances made audible. The sound from those speakers is interference from the ad hoc antennae of the circuit-boards played unfiltered, it seems, for ears other than ours. The secret life of circuits, played out on an earth after us.
Here are two sardonic takes on the DIY resurgence, post-consumerist transposed into post-consumer, in a world where DIY been associated as often with fertiliser bombs as with handicraft, where survivalism and tree changing vie for fertile land. Where going back to the land may lead you back to an open-cut pit, or a strip mall, but you decide to stay there and till it yet.
Emily Morandini & Peter Blamey — filet électronique/island