TRANSMISSION (Text by Keren Goldberg)

TRANSMISSION
Beatrice Lozza, Laura O’Neill, Charlotte Whiston, Janina Lange, Julia Frank, Valentina Pini
September 8th – October 15th, 2017, Minshar Gallery
The first Google search result of the word ‘Transmission’ is: “Transmission is a BitTorrent
client which features a variety of user interfaces on top of a cross-platform back-end.”
Although I find this sentences unreadable, I assume it implies a virtual transmission, which
has long lost its tactical facet. No more passing radio waves, car gears shifting or neurons
transmitted across synapses; but rather a senseless transmission between users and
interfaces.
This evaporation of physical actions and relations is at the heart of this group show,
including works by six female artists, whose paths have crossed (or should I say
“interfaced”) during their art studies in London. However, the naïve concept of virtual postmateriality
has long been replaced by the achingly present reality of privately-owned server
farms, blood coltan mines in Congo and debt economies. We are experiencing what Joshua
Simon calls “Neomaterialism”, in which symbols behave like materials and commodities
become subjects.1

The works in the show, mostly condensed towards the center of the space, all share a
unique approach to materiality. The artists cast, press, intersect or blow up various
substances (all “masculine” actions which inflict power), in order to form a spatial portrait of
physical labour in which things, data, people and mater transmit and interact.
Most of the works are interspersed in the main installation – a collaboration work by the
artists – resembling a watch tower or a construction site. In its molded sand, strange objects
appear. These are Janina Lange’s sculptures of fulgurites – tubes that form when lightning
strikes the ground (‘Petrified Lightning’, 2017). The two narrow, upright pols are bronze
fulgurites casts, while the clear objects are 3d resin prints of the tubes themselves, that were
scanned prior to the casting process. Thus, the cast and its mold wear similar forms, both
rising from the ground they once bore a hole in. Other casts are Valentina Pini’s abstract,
sleek plaster sculptures, resembling bubbling substances or blown up pop-like vomitus
(‘Untitled’, 2017). These plasticized amorphous forms were created using pre-made molds
based on a melted spaghetti plate, thus reversing again artistic creation and physical
decomposition.

While Lange constructs an earthly object, Beatrice Lozza annuls it. A small TV set shows a
repeated explosion of a clear mountain crystal (‘Beyond the Other Side of Control’, 2010).
Mountain crystals are believed to be wise and old living beings, a gift from mother earth.
They are also the purest form of quartz, used in various technologies and industries. Here,
this tiny object, on which various human needs have been projected throughout history, is
blown up, its remnants blown away in the air. The precious crystal powder is scattered
around the television set, granting this documented past action a present concreteness.
According to Simon, in a world in which there are more commodities than humans, a
“commodity is first and foremost a presence”. This intrinsic value is revealed in the exhibition
format, in which “commodities are most true to themselves”.2 Lozza, Lange and Pini’s

creation, or annihilation, of objects testify to this presence, which here relates to natural
substances and their commodification.
Other works in the show take on a different tactic, attempting to turn materials and images
into abstract shapes. A large abstract surface is stretched onto the wooden structure, as if it
were a poster. It is made in unique action painting technique by Julia Frank, in which
colorful layers of industrial paint are pressed against large scale plastic sheets (‘Untitled’,
2017). Frank calls these works ‘fictional cartographies’, as they bare an archeological quality
and resemble peeling walls; but their plasticity alludes any figurative concretization.
The works in this show seem to hide from the viewers. Charlotte Whiston’s two small prints
also explore modes of artificial (or geometrical) abstraction, not through manual application,
but through instrumental printing. They are part of her series ‘Abstracted Views’ (2017),
including various silk screen prints of an architectural structure, as seen in a found
photograph. Whiston uses two different printing methods: the entire image is printed using
‘halftone’, in which dots of various sizes and spacing are applied, while the overlaying
geometric forms are printed using ‘spot colour’, in which premixed color is directly applied
onto the paper. Much like in architecture, the whole and its parts sit side by side, while being
visually reduced into form and color.
At the top of the watchtower, Laura O’Neill’s short computer-animated film seems to watch
the viewers instead of being watched, as the small podest at the top of the staircase hardly
allows for a decent viewing distance. ‘Nothing is Enough’ (2017) is a work of science or
social fiction, whose protagonists are figures wearing skeletons suits, flying parrots, dancing
credit cards and spiraling DNA molecules, among rest. Production and consumption, things
and processes, animals, humans and objects all co-exists in a dark, dystopian plane – a
visualization of “user interfaces on top of a cross-platform back-end”.

Text by Keren Goldberg

1 Joshua Simon, ‘Neomaterialism’, Sternberg Press, 2013.
2 Joshua Simon, ‘Neomaterialism, Part I: The Commodity and the Exhibition’, e-flux, 2010, http://www.eflux.
com/journal/20/67643/neo-materialism-part-i-the-commodity-and-the-exhibition/

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