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Published by Sugar & Cream, Wednesday 18 August 2021

Text & imaged courtesy of Nilufar Gallery

Nilurfar Gallery, Milan: 5-11 September 2021

If the work of the artist and designer Audrey Large has always questioned the dichotomy between the digital and real, some of her sculpture-objects will gather in the Nilufar Gallery exhibition space—in via Spiga, Milan—next September to raise questions about the dynamics that govern the universe of things and images.

Animated by Jane Bennett’s intriguing research and her investigations into “vibrating matter,” Large arranges her objects in space in search of an unusual dialogue with the viewer. If the American researcher emphasizes how in our daily life we are used to ignoring “the call of things,” forgetting the power they exert over us, Large’s magnetic and iridescent 3D-printed objects are instead able to translate the action inherent in all objects that we usually consider immobile, inert. And their layered skin is full of images and reliefs, juxtapositions and sparks, and escapes any precise definition.

Large’s works give voice to the power of things by revealing their nature as “possible”: they have taken solid shape starting from an infinitely transformable file; their visual language contains the liquidity of a possible further transformation; they have one form, but suggest another or a hundred others; and somehow manage to manifest all this in the reflections of their iridescent and mutable surface. What is attractive about them is their constant allusion to a possible movement, to a becoming: “we desire and seek a realization which usually consists in a constant becoming, in a permanent disposition to become” writes sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in Liquid Arts.

These vibrant objects articulate the metaphors of liquidity that largely permeate the vocabulary we use to think about our digital worlds. Like the overflow of images that spill out daily everywhere and nowhere on the Internet, as immaterial as they are accessible, Large’s objects remain ambiguous and unfathomable because of the process that brought them into being in continuity with their generating images.

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Large wants to give things a new status—considering digital matter as raw material—and aspiring to a new ethics that regulates our relationship with them. “Extracting,” “converting” and “importing” are some of the many ways to handle the transition of an image from its SOURCE, or of extrapolating tangible things from the digital world. The very fact that the digital world is deeply rooted in material systems leads her to pose a series of questions, integral to her modus operandi: “Is digital matter an inexhaustible resource?” “When files materialize into objects, do they undergo a gentle or brutal transformation?” Perhaps the perpetual vibrancy of the becoming of things could be what is infinite.

While the virtual exhibition experiment Scale to infinity, which for three months kept the fluctuating creative universe of Large online, inviting viewers to interact with it, testing its “weight” and its multifaceted essence; the exhibition Some Vibrant Things at Nilufar Gallery raises questions that seem to herald an evolution of the artist’s work—staging objects that hint at a possible function.

If—as Jane Bennet notes—the objects that populate the world are relegated to their immobility and passivity because they are interpreted and approached only as things to use, being able to circumvent the function of an object, remove it from the center of attention, can lead us to perceive the sound and strength of its vibrant matter. A force that is anything but passive and capable of affecting us, reverberating within us. The function suggested by Large’s objects does not prevent them from continuing to vibrate.

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