Memory Hole

June 25 — July 17 2015, Trish Clark Gallery

Memory Hole takes as its foundation a return to some earlier projects, revisiting them in the context of more recent works.

Coming into adulthood at the eve of the new millennium, Brennan’s sensibility has much to do with straddling the split between the aspirations of modernism and the incredulity of postmodernism. Traveling in the slipstream left by modernism’s wake, her works recall the utopian promises of the previous generation’s urbanism, while reflecting on the failure of these promises to deliver, with titles like Envoy from Mirror City; Another Green World; and Theme for Great Cities. Against this utopianism the detritus of rapidly obsolete technologies – polystyrene computer packing and cardboard boxes – is recast with new, uncertain potential.

In her Walters Prize nominated Wet Social Sculpture, delivering gallery audiences into a functional spa pool, Brennan toyed with Joseph Beuys’ idea that ‘everyone is an artist’ by inviting everyone to contribute to her work by having a quick dip. But the contradiction in Beuys’ aspirational statement inevitably becomes apparent in this social experiment; though inflected by our participation, authorship can never be ours.

Often performing the role of an archaeologist of the immediate past, Brennan delves into the materiality and affect of outmoded technology. Her tapestry project, Tuesday 3 July 2001, 10:38am, represents laborious effort over more than a year in order to capture a fleeting moment in the life of a now-archaic desktop. Similarly, her video work ZenDV, plays with a fetishism of the analogue in face of the digital – digitally generated dust and scratches run over test patterns which are themselves now almost as nostalgic.

Hers is not the expert eye of the programmer or engineer, but rather, that of the increasingly common position of the prosumer subject, with access to the tools, but not the architecture, of the present. In spite of the vast potential of recent tech, very few of us have the ability or agency to delve deeper than the glossy surface of its interfaces, and this is the level that Brennan reflects back to us.

List of works.

[Photos: Sam Hartnett]