Monday, April 6, 2009

Down in the Valley

I recently jetted down to Sydney to see the new show “Uncanny Valley” by one of Australia’s most interesting artists, Hany Armanious (showing at Roxlyn Oxley 9 in Paddington throughout the month of April).

As Amanda Rowell writes in the press release, “Everything is not as it seems” and she means it. This show requires a constant visual adjustment as you are repeatedly challenged to believe in what you see – what appears stone, is polystyrene, what appears metal, is gold, wood is resin and so on. It’s a mind fuck of the highest order.

So what does it all mean? Rowell explodes the mystery: “Uncanny Valley is a robotics term that describes the threshold crossed when a robot has become so lifelike in its appearance as to be almost indistinguishable from its human model, precipitating a sudden drop – on the graph – in the hitherto increasing levels of empathy of the human toward the humanoid.

There are constant tricks and turns of order: Lagerfeld is a maker of models, a bare plinth is an object of worship ... it is a spiritual, historical, witty labyrinthical world Armanious conjures up for us to behold.

As Adam Jasper boldly asserts in this month’s “Art World” magazine, Armanious “is the real deal”. But, how do we know? What is he made of? Do androids dream of electric sheep?

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