International 3 (The)

There was no single privileged inroad into understanding Stuart Edmundson’s ‘Forget Your Future Plans’ room-filling installation without castrating the effect of the piece; closing down the experience of entering a Shahin Afrassiabi installation which had been ‘coloured-in’ by an aggressive child with the added sonic irritant of irregular bursts of fuzzy guitars and feed back.

In a style which can only be described as restrained psychotic carnivalesque, Edmundson attempted to construct a gallery installation which assaulted the visitors’ senses, whilst simultaneously seducing by its destabilising excess. In these intended terms it failed, but something more isolating and psychologically introverting resulted.

Resembling something between partially assembled wardrobes and the perplexing angularity of a dreamscapes deformed gibbet, two peculiar and clumsy 7ft sculptural forms were the dominant elements around which the rest of the show pivoted.

These stacked and mirror clad angular forms – referencing the wood and compressed sheets of building materials available from DIY superstores, a mainstay of contemporary art production – literally reflected the opening night’s audience and synthetic bands of sprayed paint which dragged the eye around the galleries wall. The graffiti wall-painting carried across the surface of a large circular canvas which slowly rotated to momentarily but repeatedly realign the spray of colours; another, apparently removed from the facing wall, operated horizontally on the floor, leaving a circular silhouette disrupting the walls spread of paint.

With paint the colour choices now available seem nearly infinite. To indicate the difference between them, the minimum interplay to mould pictorial forms, two is adequate, with an awareness that a colour cannot be spread indefinitely without encountering a difference within a spectrum or it would not be perceived as colour at all.

For all colours’ attraction for Edmundson the space in which it lives seemed a much more fundamental concern: a colour as an indication of Colour, both a potential alphabet of expression and an unavoidable, indifferent, inexpressive concrete entity.

Here, it was used as the ambient announcement of different materials, Edmundson playing games with the viewers’ unconscious associations between particular colours and the material grounds they imply: disco lycra blue-green and staccato blocks of heavy pink; the damp weight of spray paint and the chalky white of matt wall paint.

This explained the final incongruous element, two prints of the same image of a blandly attractive palm tree against a darkening holiday brochure sky, which added the synthetic glossy sheen of digital photography to the mix.

A further emphasis on the clumsy physicality of matter came in the form of a lumpen seepage of glue connecting the rectangular planes of reflective mirrors covering areas of the sculptural towers: a disruptive alien excess, not a discrete functional fact but a visually objectionable fact – like the strained social interactions of the opening night’s audience or the stranded reflected singularity of an isolated visitor, an unavoidable physical thing.

The pervasive atmosphere of entropy, a creeping ennui, the result of this fragmented restaging of the components of the ‘art’ object and its gallery presentation: by the end of the evening ‘Forget Your Future Plans’ seemed an ironic address to future artworks and their aspirations, a blackly comic end-of-pier entertainment.