2-12 SEPTEMBER 2015
Opening Night Tuesday 8 September 2015, 5-7pm
The works in STANBOT are made around the idea of 'technopoly', and what it means to be a human in a time when the cognitive and evaluative biases of computer technology dominate all spheres of life.
Event Image: Giselle Stanborough, 'Nice2MEch@: Cameo Momento', 2014, laser scanned self portrait in 3D printed plastic.
by Aston Creus.
Taking over the centre stage (not just a figure of speech, read on) of the Kudos Gallery, Master of Fine Arts graduate Giselle Stanborough’s solo exhibition is a rambunctious mix of screen-based media and sculptural forms. The works in STANBOT are made around the idea of 'technopoly', and what it means to be a human in a time when the cognitive and evaluative biases of computer technology dominate all spheres of life.
As a preface, before STANBOT I had for the most part only encountered Giselle’s video works. A cacophony of sound greets audiences as soon as they begin to open the door, something which furthered my expectation that the show would be predominantly media based. Audio of a man can be heard to the left as he deliberately draws out two words in an uncanny manner: “Shredded. Shrimp.” To the right, a round of applause followed by excited cheers. Somewhere in the dimly lit distance is the distinct sound of wet bodies slapping together. What pleasantly surprised me from here was that STANBOT is in equal parts focused on physical forms as it is screen and projection works, with sculpture and video often working together in unique ways. Take 'Wiccan Wifi' for example, an autonomous cleaning robot hijacked to wander around displaying digital video on a mounted tablet. There is a very real fear that art that is seeded in the realms of the digital and the online loses some of its aura in that transition from virtual to a gallery setting. Giselle deserves credit for mitigating that loss by really giving the virtual a presence. In fact, all the works in STANBOT have a direct connection with their surroundings and sculptural nature. Giselle has gone to meticulous lengths in arranging and balancing the sound and visuals her four channel projection work “The Lonely Tail” (as heard upon entry), which features the artist herself digitally inserted into scenes composed of digital ‘found footage’. These scenes - reminiscent of home videos and strange Youtube videos with negligible views - each explore a different theme, ranging from pimple-popping culture to pornography and fitness instruction tapes. The videos are projected in trapezoidal shapes and no matter where you go you can’t escape the composed sounds, which I feel are a stand-out and a great descriptor of Giselle’s work in general. It’s gross, it’s sexy, and it’s confusing. You watch for a while and you start to see the stuff you didn’t see before, like cumshot silhouettes and agitated pimples undulating.
On the other side of the first partition you encounter a vintage slide projector shuffling its way through documentation of ‘Turing Test’, a performance and installation work by the artist and a foray into the contrasting visceral nature of human and technological interaction. From here you encounter 'Nice2MEch@: Cameo Momento’, a laser scanned self portrait of the artist in white 3D printed plastic. The work sits mounted, its width at about only the length of a single finger. Its counterpart, printed in black, is in its spot directly on the other side of the partition so that the two seem to transgress the temporary gallery wall – two thumbnails on a white expanse.
Off to the corner is another sculptural piece, a personal favourite from the show. A jumble of Apple branded earbuds connected by way of audio splitters cascade out over a plinth in a rather mesmerizing way. Giselle plays with the pervasive nature of companies like Apple and their dominative position in the technopoly frequently, and my only qualm is that the aptly named ‘Ghost of Steve Jobs II’ didn’t take a more prime position within the space. Featuring on the hall’s main stage and the show’s centerpiece is Giselle’s ‘#bloodsugarchecksmagic”, a larger than life video work featuring selfies of the artist and clip-art visuals with the occasional kitschy jingle or sound effect. The video, which was also featured in the John Fries Award at the time, presents the artist as a Mark Zuckerberg-like figure as she narrates using text a tale of politics and privacy in an imagined yet eerily plausible digital age. The work, also quirky and humorous, manages to impart a certain feeling of isolation and loneliness.
At times STANBOT can feel a little frantic, though this is not necessarily meant in a bad way. In doing so it demands a bilateral audience dynamic that is so crucial to engaging with Giselle’s work. The work truly becomes in some ways about you; an introspection into the particularities of your kind-of banal, everyday life with all its oddities. Because of this approach, I feel the sculptural works in the show might sometimes seem ancillary to the attention demanding screen-media. However when you take time to distract yourself from the others’ frenzied cries they truly do stand out as great works that embody Giselle’s well founded take on what it’s like to be a human in the age of the ‘technopoly’.