16 August 2011

British artist, Darrell Viner (1946 – 2001) is most well known for his large – scale kinetic sculptures where he combined computer programming with more innate materials such as light, air and water to create a response to audience movement. His most recent installation, and also his last was, Is Tall Better Than Small?, at the  Science Museum in London.  An installation above an escalator, the piece seems to be processing visitors on a production line and, as the website says, it is like a modern day scene from Metropolis!
 

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What makes the exhibition of his early work at the Henry Moore Institute really interesting is the vast contrast between the sculptural forms of Viner’s latter day work and the exhibited pieces. Viner was actually one of the first artists in the 1970’s who learnt how to write in code and subsequently was able to incorporate this into his artistic practise. Through the exploration of the boundaries of computer coding during his time at the Slade School of Art, he was able to create programmes that in turn would create his artwork. These initial explorations in coded drawing form the exhibited pieces in The Sculpture Study Galleries of the Henry Moore Institute and are what Viner described as ‘a journey in mark making’.

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The seemingly simple ink on paper drawings were formed using an adapted pen plotter. Though drawn by a machine, they actually have an amazing hand drawn quality that Viner was able to achieve by programming the plotter to replot areas to alter the thickness of the line. The drawings illustrate the interesting process of an artist using the computer as a tool to achieve machine perfect patterns whilst also programming the computer to take on the “flaws” of a drawing created by hand. A tine consuming process that I think is worth the effort! 

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What results of the collection of drawings is an invaluable insight into Viner’s artistic process and the foundations of his latter kinetic sculptural work, a behind the scenes look not usually available within gallery spaces.

The exhibition runs until the 30 October alongside Mario Mertz: What is to Be Done, so a trip to Leeds is well worth the visit.

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