Nina Beier, Simon Den­ny, Mar­lie Mul
Cold Inti­ma­cy

15th November – 20th December 2014
Anna Schwartz Gallery Carriageworks

Cold Inti­ma­cy con­cerns the his­to­ry of emo­tions and the his­to­ry of images as inter­twined phe­nom­e­na. Itun­der­stands the word inti­ma­cy’, often used to describe encoun­ters with art­works, as pos­sess­ing a new valence in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry. Like­wise, it under­stands the word image’, as bear­ing a dif­fer­ent­mean­ing today com­pared with the use of the same word a cen­tu­ry ago.

This exhi­bi­tion explores the nature of emo­tions in the age of the Inter­net. Titled after the recent­ly pub­lished text Cold Inti­ma­cies’ by Eva Illouz,1 in which she posits that advanced cap­i­tal­ism has fos­tered an emo­tion­al cul­ture that encour­ages both self-expo­sure and self-exploita­tion, mean­while total­ly reshap­ing inter­per­son­al rela­tion­ships, the exhi­bi­tion con­sid­ers the types of respons­es and rela­tion­ships the com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed image solic­its. Fur­ther, it explores the implied hand of the artist in the dig­i­tal image — despite the absence of a phys­i­cal trace.

Accord­ing to Illouz, Mar­ket-based cul­tur­al reper­toires shape and inform inter­per­son­al and emo­tion­al rela­tion­ships, while inter­per­son­al rela­tion­ships are at the epi­cen­ter of eco­nom­ic relationships.’[2] She argues that the econ­o­my can no longer be sep­a­rat­ed from human­i­ty in con­tem­po­rary soci­ety: cit­ing exam­ples of cor­po­rate cul­ture mak­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty an emo­tion­al con­cern; and process­es of ratio­nal­i­sa­tion inspired by eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal mod­els (com­pro­mise, exchange, equal­i­ty and equi­ty) being used to struc­ture per­son­al relationships.

The very phrase Cold Inti­ma­cy seems self-negat­ing — the pair­ing undoes the warmth and close­ness asso­ci­at­ed with the lat­ter word, and replaces it with con­no­ta­tions of iso­la­tion and steril­i­ty. In this way the phrase relates to the expe­ri­ence of the dig­i­tal image, and in turn the pre­dom­i­nant expe­ri­ence of con­tem­po­rary art. As Simon Den­ny has stated:

…the prac­tice of view­ing exhi­bi­tions on a screen, on the inter­net, or in dig­i­tal pho­tos… hap­pens a lot. I found I was doing this and lots of oth­er peo­ple were see­ing my exhi­bi­tions in this form. In a way you can’t real­ly say that you have seen these things (when you have seen them on a screen), but at the same time you haven’t seen nothing.[3]

As crit­ic Paul Tay­lor antic­i­pat­ed three decades ago, view­ing exhi­bi­tions and art­works pri­mar­i­ly through doc­u­men­ta­tion is very com­mon in geo­graph­i­cal­ly iso­lat­ed Aus­tralia, where one’s rela­tion­ship to the rest of the art world is often medi­at­ed by dig­i­tal imagery. Cold Inti­ma­cy brings to us the work of four artists based in Europe, whose work is not often seen in Aus­tralia. It allows us to cre­ate per­son­al rela­tion­ships with and inti­mate read­ings of the work by expe­ri­enc­ing it in the flesh, but also exam­ines the cold­ness of the dig­i­tal imagery that is reflect­ed, cri­tiqued and cel­e­brat­ed with­in the very works themselves.

Mak­ing the claim that one must kill’ an object in order to ani­mate it, Nina Beier’s Demon­stra­tor’ series por­trays futil­i­ty as a state of pure pres­ence as sug­gest­ed by 20th cen­tu­ry Ger­man philoso­pher Mar­tin Heidegger’s tool analy­sis’, which sug­gests that only bro­ken objects can be tru­ly expe­ri­enced for what they are. Beier’s Demon­stra­tors ques­tion the extent that the life­less can be brought to life when mim­ic­k­ing life. For this series she pur­chased stock images using the key­words drown­ing coins’, print­ed them on bill­board paper, dipped them in glue and hung them to dry from trapezes sus­pend­ed from the ceil­ing. In this way the body of the gym­nast has been replaced by the dig­i­tal image.

Simon Denny’s prac­tice empha­sis­es rela­tion­ships with­in com­mu­ni­ties of things, as well as peo­ple. In his instal­la­tion works, the mate­r­i­al and imma­te­r­i­al cul­tures of con­tem­po­rary life are deployed to per­form them­selves in a hyper-net­worked dio­ra­ma of knowl­edge and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Fol­low­ing McLuhan’s notion that a dom­i­nant tech­no­log­i­cal medi­um only becomes vis­i­ble at the moment of its obso­les­cence, Den­ny is inter­est­ed in tele­vi­sion and its unchal­lenged dom­i­nance before the Inter­net, and the inher­ent obso­les­cence of cur­rent evolv­ing tele­vi­sion tech­nolo­gies. His recent work has stud­ied the start-up indus­try, focus­ing on the brand­ing, media and rhetoric of recent tech­nol­o­gy con­fer­ences. He has shone light on busi­ness man­age­ment strate­gies, with a par­tic­u­lar focus on multi­na­tion­al elec­tron­ics cor­po­ra­tion Sam­sung. New Man­age­ment, the title of Denny’s recent exhi­bi­tion at Por­tikus in Frank­furt am Main, and the title of a work includ­ed in Cold Inti­ma­cy, refers to a piv­otal meet­ing of exec­u­tives and investors that Sam­sung held in Frank­furt in 1993, which formed the ori­gin of their mobile and tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion empire.

Ali­cia Frankovich’s sculp­ture and video work cel­e­brate human pos­si­bil­i­ties and trans­for­ma­tive poten­tial. Her prac­tice explores the body’s range, its fail­ures and move­ment as both metaphor and motif in rela­tion to social and psy­cho­log­i­cal con­straints. Frankovich’s video work, Defend­ing Plur­al Expe­ri­ences: MOCAP Cre­ation, was formed from the doc­u­men­ta­tion of a chore­o­graphed per­for­mance shot in the but­ter­fly enclo­sure at the Mel­bourne Zoo. Motion cap­ture tech­nol­o­gy ani­mat­ed the move­ment of a dancer through a 24-point cam­era sys­tem, which was then trans­lat­ed into two dig­i­tal avatars, one zom­bie-like and one fash­ioned in human form, lay­ered on top of the live footage and com­bined with sound. Explor­ing non-hier­ar­chi­cal rela­tions between ani­mal, human and dig­i­tal, each engages in modes of trans­for­ma­tion with­in the one environment.

Mar­lie Mul’s sculp­tures often acti­vate every­day objects to con­sid­er notions of human inter­ac­tion and real ver­sus repli­ca. For Cold Inti­ma­cy’ her work is drawn from the ongo­ing series No Odu­ur. Com­pris­ing a wall-based, steel air-vent as ash­tray and free­stand­ing plex­i­glass heal­ing pole’, the cig­a­rette butts and nico­tine patch­es present in the work depict traces of human behav­iour and sug­gest the invis­i­ble pres­ence of a vir­tu­al pop­u­la­tion. Smok­ing is used as a visu­al tool to speak about var­i­ous top­ics in these works: for exam­ple, loose visu­al ref­er­ences that image the pres­ence of smoke as a cloud emu­lat­ing meta­phys­i­cal clut­ter; or the spa­tial issue of the pas­sive smok­er where air becomes some­thing that can be territorialised.[4]

Cold Inti­ma­cy’ con­sid­ers the val­ue and valid­i­ty of the dig­i­tal image when it is com­pressed and shared in the vir­tu­al envi­ron­ment. It looks at the pres­ence or absence of life in a jpeg or on a screen, its inher­ent cold­ness, and how one might nav­i­gate per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ships in the dig­i­tal age. It brings the work of Beier, Den­ny, Frankovich and Mul togeth­er to see what rela­tion­ships might emerge between their objects, and con­sid­ers the future of the rela­tion­ship between the image and the object at this time.

Melis­sa Loughnan

[1] Illouz, Eva, Cold Inti­ma­cies, Poli­ty Press, 2007. Illouz is Pro­fes­sor of Soci­ol­o­gy at The Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty of Jersalem.

[2] Illouz, Eva, Cold Inti­ma­cies, Poli­ty Press, 2007, p. 5.

[3] Com­men­tary: Inter­view between Simon Den­ny and Dan Arps’ in Den­ny, Simon, Video Aquar­i­um Broad­cast, pub­lished by Galerie Daniel Buch­holz and Michael Lettt, 2010, p. 266

[4 ] Alexan­der Scrim­geour speaks with Mar­lie Mul’, ICA Jour­nal, 25 Jun – 14 Sep 2014

Nina Beier cour­tesy Lau­ra Bartlett Gallery, London

Simon Den­ny cour­tesy Michael Lett, Auck­land and Sarah Cot­ti­er Gallery, Sydney

Mar­lie Mul cour­tesy Croy Nielsen, Berlin


Cold Inti­ma­cy, 2014
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks 
Curat­ed by Melis­sa Loughnan

Cold Inti­ma­cy, 2014
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks 
Curat­ed by Melis­sa Loughnan

Cold Inti­ma­cy, 2014
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks 
Curat­ed by Melis­sa Loughnan

Nina Beier

The Demon­stra­tors (Sink­ing Coins), 2014
Poster, glue, trapeze
64558 cm, 70558 cm and 72658 cm

Ali­cia Frankovich

Defend­ing Plur­al Expe­ri­ences: MOCAP Creation, 2014
36 min­utes 28 seconds

Ali­cia Frankovich

Not Yet Titled, 2013
Stain­less steel, Thera Bands, drink bot­tle, shoe lace
809045 cm

Simon Den­ny

New Man­age­ment, 2014
Anodised alu­mini­um, dig­i­tal print on per­spex, screws, 55″ Sam­sung 3D Smart TV, remote control
9717012.5 cm

Simon Den­ny

Dis­rupt Peter Thiel Sweet Spot, 2014
Dig­i­tal print on bill­board mesh, cus­tom alu­mini­um frame, fit­tings, TechCrunch Berlin Dis­rupt Banner
32060010 cm

Simon Den­ny

Seed­camp Documentary, 2014
High Def­i­n­i­tion video, 65″ Sam­sung curved 3D Smart TV
2 min­utes 41seconds

Mar­lie Mul

Air Vent/​Butt Stop (Fake Cough­ing In Front Of Smok­ers Just To Make Them Feel…), 2014
Steel, cig­a­rette, paper
12090 cm

Mar­lie Mul

Plas­ter Pole (Heal­ing), 2014
Silk screen on Plexiglas
2002525 cm