black prism | jamin 2017

despard gallery, hobart



BLACK PRISM is the title of this exhibition. It is also the name of a metal band from Los Angeles that I have never heard. It is the name of a fantasy book that I have read. And it is the name of an album I am producing as Vibrant Matters. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things is a philosophical book that I have read, and it is the name of a series of paintings that I made in 2015. Both Black Prism and Vibrant Matter are seeming oxymorons. They suggest a reality in which there are some very fuzzy edges, where the intensive differences that drive flows, are actually as interesting (maybe more so) than the outcomes and neat manifestations of what we consider to be the rational and correct reality. 

As a graphic designer in the print industry in the mid 90’s I spent many hours removing moiré patterns (undesirable artefacts) from rescanned photos. This was achieved by changing the angle of the photo on the scanner bed, or by drastically increasing or decreasing the resolution, or by some other arcane trick. However undesirable these artefacts were, I was continuously struck by their beauty and their seemingly magical appearance in the otherwise mundane imagery from which they were removed – such as the self congratulatory photos of national Lions Club members disbursed to their regional newsletters, or the butchering of one Mitre 10 catalogue to feed another. 

These moiré, or interference, patterns spoke of another reality, a more subtle and occulted space of frequencies and multiple perspectives. I would view an analogue TV through the lens of a handy-cam to experience the strobing moiré of the screen. As a guitar player during those years, I also experienced interference patterns as I tuned my guitar, the subtle beating of two notes of similar frequencies coming together as they found unison in pitch. What was this strange world? What were these strange visible and audible patterns that lurked at the edges of things? Why, during my four and a half year apprenticeship, did I write so many songs and lyrics to the regular and irregular clacking and whirring of the print machines? Did their drone like hum and monotonous beating, alongside the endless retyping of banal advertising copy, create moiré patterns inside of my head?

Probably not. But the moiré stuck, as did a general attraction to industrial materials and processes. Aluminium printing plates have here been replaced by ACP and the offset printers replaced by stencils, spray paints and CNC machines. The technology, and the materials it produces and that produce it, continuously create moments of unevenness and irregularity that occasionally come together as a note heard in unison, or else as a discombobulating pattern that slides in and out of perception as the medium changes – or as we change our position in relation to the medium. 

The medium is the message, yet we settled for a massage.

Jamin 2017