4 August 2008

Celebrating ten years of commissioning ambitious and challenging work by leading international artists and spreading the breadth of the city region, MADE UP will explore the ecology of artistic imagination. At FACT, artists focus on the power of the mind to make up meaning when faced with complete abstraction and extreme sensory deprivation. Korean artist U-Ram Choe has constructed his most ambitious commission to date in FACT's expansive atrium, continuing the trend of his recent large-scale metal and plastic automated installations that are rendered with such a delicacy and weightlessness that it seems to take on the shape and silhouette of an organic life form.

Intricately detailed, motorised and featuring heat and light sensitive materials, there is a mesmeric nature to Choe's kinetic sculptures. Each work is accompanied by a history of discovery, locating the object in an imagined time and place. Examining the work's anthropological roots is reminiscent of touring a prehistoric exhibit at a natural science or history museum. The installations anthropological roots add to the work's sense of wonder.

In Gallery 1, German artist Ulf Langheinrich offers the immersive experience of a digital illusion and the specific beauty of a mathematically strict monotony that is unique to digitally created and processed material. LAND is a 3D landscape rendered out of algorithms to create pure noise. The noise appears to morph into various recognizable structures, although no singular object exists in the digital landscape. LAND is an attempt to create the immersive, illusive and sublime feeling of uncertainty through sound, matter, time and space. The work continues the artists research into the nature of the digital illusion, large scope spaces devoid of any object yet dense with matter that is always imagined to be in that space.

In Gallery 2, two New Zealand artists use single video installations to express the ability of the human mind to create a fictional narrative when presented with limited information or stimulation. Stella Brennan's South Pacific (2007) and Terrence Handscomb's Der Himmel über Kalifornien (2007) and examine the freedom of the artist to explore their contemporary or historic culture, joining the dots in a different way, exploring the imagination to come to an alternative conclusion. As a consumer, the works consider the ability of the human mind to construct a made up façade depending on an individual viewpoint or desire for control.

Stella Brennan's South Pacific (2007) plays with the links between technologies that make images from non-visual sources. Using medical ultrasound and text, South Pacific explores how the Second World War changed the perception of oceanic space, as well as the conflict's legacy in the region. Terrence Handscomb's Der Himmel über Kalifornien (2007) is a sardonic critique of Californian culture and an obscure dreamscape. Handscomb takes some fundamental Californian cultural tropes - a fascination with the body, cosmetic surgery and the prolongation of youth, science-fiction mysticism and the suspension of death and stirs them into a thick mix of low-resolution Film-Noir stylistics.

American artist Michael Bell Smith completes the exhibit in Gallery 2 with a screen based from his Glitter series. With elements of animation and lo-fi aesthetics, this work is a journey through abstraction, creating an impression of inter-galactic travel, skimming over the surface of the earth or soaring over electrified city-scapes. It is light and only light that creates this work, and the nature of the subject is as fleeting as the medium. It is that which doesn't exist on which the work dwells: technology of the past, starlight in the city, the image that comes and goes without material presence.

Lisa Reihana's Colour of Sin: HeadCase Version (2005) is situated in the bar at FACT. It invites viewers, or listeners, to sit under one of the three retro cone hairdryers. Instead of warm air, sound issues from each cone - an eerie swarm of buzzing voices. Reihana has recently started making works that acknowledge her Pakeha side, and this work is a tribute to her English hairstylist mother. Much of Reihana's practice, parallel to her new media work (and often in collaboration with the Pacific Sisters), has featured adornment as a form of cultural expression. In Colour of Sin the waspish, frenzied voices whisper about dressing up and layering disguises: the practice of performing identity.

Liverpool Biennial continues to place an emphasis on commissioning new work from leading and emerging international artists. With FACT's expertise and experience in the exhibition and promotion of film, video and new media art, the new work on show in the galleries, Media Lounge and public spaces is experiential rather than representational, requesting that the visitor uses their imagination to fill in the gaps in what they see, hear and understand.