Hobson’s Choice: Harm van den Dorpel at Wilkinson

23 March 2012 By
Hobson's Choice: Harm van den Dorpel at Wilkinson Gallery

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, recommends his favourite exhibition of the week.

2 March – 22 April, 2012

50-58 Vyner Street, London E2 9DQ

Wednesday to Saturday, 11:00am – 6:00pm and Sunday 12:00 – 6:00pm


There is a beautiful exhibition upstairs at Wilkinson by Dutch artist Harm van den Dorpel, whose work I especially admire.  Van den Dorpel works across a wide range of media – collages, installations, websites and animation – and draws upon the languages of the Internet, media and interactive design in his work.  Harm belongs to a young generation of artists interested in the participatory culture of the Internet and in particular, the way in which the Internet has transformed the way we think about, access and appropriate visual information.  (This is what is meant by `post-Internet’ – not in the sense that the Internet is over, but that its impact as an event has already happened.)  His practice is driven by applying methods from media theory, information science, philosophy and semiotics, often using synthetic materials and self-developed online information systems to generate his work.  If all of this sounds a bit cerebral – it is!  But Harm’s work is also aesthetically powerful, as you will see from this elegant show.  Several spherical structures occupy the gallery space, suspended in complex systems of fine metal chains of the sort one associates with office blinds.  Smokey Perspex strips, patterned with collaged textures, images of cables sourced from the Internet, jewellery, chains and organic matter, and vivid coloured panels, are roughly cut with a jigsaw and curved to form orbital shapes that remind one of futuristic visors or helmets, and molecular structures.  The works have been created in a sequence based on virtual versions created digitally – each following on from the other and evolving from the processes and accidental negotiations involved in their being rendered in the real world.  Whilst adopting formats that suggest the representation of information, these sculptures actually withhold information, giving them a mysterious, almost sinister mode of operating that is visually codified and mute.  A few two-dimensional glazed collage pieces incorporating layers of images and textures are on the walls, adding to the idea of information legible as a system of collated data caught between real and virtual representation.  A stunning show by an artist to watch.

Image: Harm van den Dorpel, installation view, 2012. Copyright the artist, courtesy Wilkinson Gallery.

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