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Work / Art

Lanark Artefax takes us behind his boundary-pushing installation, The Absent Material Gateway

The many talents of Scottish electronic artist Lanark Artefax are evident in a recent installation, The Absent Material Gateway. Created in partnership with the Red Bull Music Academy, it saw the artist exhibit for the first time in his home of Glasgow.

Previously praised by renowned experimental musicians Bjork and Aphex Twin for his sound work, Lanark’s latest work envisages his output as a “surreal space, sitting between vivid fabrication and blurry reality”. The installation was built to be viewed alone (with only 50 places available) and is described by the artist as an “immersive, multi-platform, bibliographical and transhistorical installation,” that expands beyond the exhibition space at Glasgow’s Glue Factory into a custom built website and culminated in a live performance by the artist in collaboration with LuckyMe production designer, Shaun Murphy.

To find out more about the hotly tipped artist’s latest work, below we have a chat with Lanark to find out the thought process and meaning of this multi-faceted piece of work.

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Lanark Artefax: The Absent Material Gateway

Can you describe the thoughts and process that went into The Absent Material Gateway?

The installation itself is massively inspired by Raoul Eshelman’s conception of the ‘performatism’, which is a sort of aesthetic sensibility and register that presents various solutions to the metaphysical shortcomings of ‘post-postmodern’ art. Around this time last year when I was approached to work on something with Redbull Music Academy, I was completing my dissertation on metamodernism and was becoming obsessive about potential methods of properly extinguishing the legacy of postmodernism, and its absolutely gross persistence in art. I was reading lots about world-building and environments that are ‘rigged’ to offer a completely holistic, unified reality or set of metaphysical conditions that thwart things like postmodern irony, the hyperreal, unrelenting, uninspired pluralism and in order to revive properly coherent ideas in art like metaphysicality, transcendence, metanarratives and absolute truth.

The Absent Material Gateway is the product of a world that is structured so as to properly coerce us into believing in something completely unified. It’s authentic through aesthetics, so it can actually be experienced and enjoyed, not endlessly pulled apart and deconstructed like everything else.

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Lanark Artefax: The Absent Material Gateway

Why did you decide that the installation should be experienced solitary?

I don’t like to experience art installs or exhibitions with people. Experiencing work like that with other people tends to maximise the space between you and the work by multiplying together all the obstacles that exist between you and the work, your friends and the work, and you and your friends. If you’re alone it’s much easier to submit to things you otherwise wouldn’t and that’s much better.

What do you think are the benefits of working with lots of alternate elements and counterparts?

For this project it’s about creating a sprawling network of concrete interrelationships. Like I said, it’s about formulating a completely unified world, so it was necessary to integrate lots of different mediums and methods of documenting a world. There’s still lots of bits left that are still to be filled in after the installation itself will close. We’re filling bits in right now in this interview for example.

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Lanark Artefax: The Absent Material Gateway

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Lanark Artefax: The Absent Material Gateway

How does it feel to be exhibiting in your home of Glasgow for the first time? Are there people coming to the show who don’t usually get to see your work?

It’s great yes, as I’ve not really seen anything like this here before. Despite having such a fantastic art school here, there’s not a great deal of original or innovative stuff being allowed to break through. I recognise this is a sort of widespread problem across all disciplines at the moment, but christ, this never-ending production of cynicism and disbelief in art is so boring and lazy. It’s completely the fault of faculty who can’t offer young people anything new and just drone on incessantly about deconstruction and self-referentiality. But I went to the last degree show and you could see how badly the students were trying to make work that embodied something real and true and useful, particularly in painting and sculpture, so that is really exciting and that’s what I’m trying to do too, maybe some of those people might come to my thing. I hope those people come.

To those who won’t be able to visit the art installation, could you describe what feelings you hope it will evoke in its audience?

I hope that it successfully communicates a world that folk can actually believe in. What I mean by that is that, before it got trashed in the 20th century, art has been forever about creating the artificial conditions for belief; about creating totalising systems of analysing being as real, as aesthetically verifiable, not as endlessly deferred or somehow ‘unreal’ because we can’t articulate EXACTLY what is going on all the time. I think we’ve done a reasonably good job of documenting and mediating a world that can be enjoyed and experienced authentically and that’s what I wish for in everything I’m doing.

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Lanark Artefax: The Absent Material Gateway

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Lanark Artefax: The Absent Material Gateway

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Lanark Artefax: The Absent Material Gateway

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Lanark Artefax: The Absent Material Gateway

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Lanark Artefax: The Absent Material Gateway