Peter J Evans, ‘Waveformer’, beech parquet, 2007. Photo: Wig Worland. [enlarge]

Peter J Evans, ‘Waveformer’, beech parquet, 2007.
Photo: Wig Worland.

REVIEW

Peter J Evans: Feedbacker

Spacex, Exeter
19 May – 14 July

Reviewed by: Gabrielle Hoad »

From making photographs and sound recordings to unravelling our own DNA, we increasingly understand the world by reducing it to a string of ones and zeroes. Encoding and decoding, digitising and processing.

Peter J Evans seems both fascinated and wearied by this phenomenon. His installation Waveformer is a shoreline for the computer age: a pixellated image of breaking surf remade in three dimensions so that its fluid curves become angular planes. Constructed from parquet-effect flooring (that’s paradoxically too fragile to walk on), it belongs to the sterile world of the DIY superstore rather than the wide-open spaces.

Made from the same mundane flooring materials, Supernova Moment dares to represent the massive dynamism of a stellar explosion as a precise, static, geometric object. It seems an absurd pairing of subject and execution. And that’s surely the point – the tenuous grasp we have on the world, despite all our striving. Evans refers to “The moment under the moment”, an idea borrowed from writer Russell Hoban. While we focus on one instant, billions of other instants are also connecting. Models of the world such as maths and science have their uses, but they don’t begin to explain the strangeness of what's really going on.

There’s an obsessive quality to the work that suggests Evans might pin down reality if he can just put enough lines around it. Yet in the end, his geometric constructions and graph-paper drawings highlight the delusion of thinking we have it all mapped out. Their quietness and fragility feel like an appropriately humble scratching at the door of infinite mystery. Take Matter into matter into matter, which reveals Evans, with his fine draftsman’s pencil, systematically drawing line over line in a mind-numbing, hand-numbing repetition – until the complex accumulation of graphite transforms into a beautiful, metallic carapace. Then he draws some more and the thin paper rips and disintegrates into dust. Entropy will get us in the end.

Feedbacker is a field of rigid floor-to-ceiling verticals drawn directly on the gallery wall. It reads as a bar code, probably the ultimate symbol of the digital world. Yet it’s rendered in splatty ink via a carpenter’s plumbline device, both relics from the fuzzy, analogue world. The title suggests something systematic and predictable, but also recalls some of rock music's more anarchic moments.

Reality carries on, regardless of all the fixing and measuring. In two of Evans’ smaller drawings, nature reasserts itself as mountain ranges and icebergs under the plotted lines of a graph. And in one corner of the gallery, a tiny uninvited spider consumes a fly. Things becoming other things in the relentless surge of onward movement.

Feedbacker tours to Seventeen, London in the autumn and Workplace Gallery, Gateshead in 2008.

Writer detail:
Artist and writer based in Exeter.

art@gabriellehoad.co.uk| www.gabriellehoad.co.uk

Venue detail:
Workplace Gallery »
34 Ellison Street, GATESHEAD NE8 1AY

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