FACT: Foundation for Art and Creative Technology
North West England

Persistence of Vision brings together multimedia work by Melik Ohanian, Julius von Bismarck, Julien Maire, Mizuki Watanabe, Gebhard Sengmüller, Jamie Allen, Sascha Pohflepp and AVPD, curated by Karen Newman and Andreas Brøgger.

I’ve always found FACT to be a peculiar and underrated venue. Peculiar because on entering you would be forgiven for wondering where you were and what purpose the place has. It’s a cinema; it has a large-ish, new café. A tiny but good bookshop, a vast foyer / open space and a couple of gallery spaces on the side. Polished concrete everywhere. Underrated because it’s a multi-purpose venue, somewhere I always think is in danger of losing its focus / identity yet somewhere so specific it shuts out a huge potential audience.

Gallery 1 shows Stalker by AVPD. The piece is performative, the viewer being the performer. You are invited by a gallery assistant into a room. It’s a brightly lit, white corridor that bends with a floor-to-ceiling mirror in the corner. In the mirror you see a reflection of your back. You turn the corner, another mirror, another reflection of your back. You chase yourself around this corridor, smiling, with nervous excitement, at the peculiar event unfolding with every step. Then you realise that each of the four adjoining corridors has a door. Each looks identical and there is no way of retracing your nervous steps back to the start. So are they false doors, where do they lead? I managed to think back how many corners I had turned; finding my way to the incorrect door and leaving the work to a place I did not enter. The piece is as simple as you can make. You could spend a long time chasing yourself. I wondered at what point the gallery assistant would enter to check all was ok. Or perhaps they don’t.

Another semi-performative piece is In-Between Gaze – Mizuki Watanabe. An out of focus projected image on the wall is brought into focus when the viewer holds a magnifying glass in front of the projection. The projection is a live stream of the viewer, combined with a pre-recorded border of a person standing next to the image of the viewer, as if it were on a pull down smart-board. Similar to AVPD’s work, but not as exciting or involving. You are the performer; you can see your own back. The piece is said to question how image technologies manipulate representation and truth. I used to mess with magnifying glasses and worse at the back of Physics class to interfere with the teacher’s projected presentation. Fun back then, but a little ‘so what’ now.

More dullness upstairs, the seven photographs by Gebhard Sengmüller. ‘Erasure Coils’. Erasure coils are electromagnets that can be used to wipe data from audio and videotapes. It doesn’t come much duller. However, I like dull photographs. And they’re not really dull, they’re still, seemingly forgotten somewhat empty spaces. Flat, void of human presence and fairly sinister. Just the erasure coils. What has been erased, and why?