Toi Poneke Gallery Goes Digital

19 March 2009

Don't expect so much as a lick of paint at the next Toi Poneke Gallery exhibition, Digital Phenomena - it's all about the interaction that occurs between sound and vision through the use of mathematical programmes.

Wellington artist Giles Whitaker will install two projectors to display digital, abstract paintings - one at the gallery entrance where visitors will be able to select which works to watch and another at the very back of the gallery. The gallery will also be decorated with a series of television screens playing moving abstract paintings on continuous loops.

Giles says the most absorbing artwork for visitors is likely to be the one at the back of the gallery. "It will be completely cut off from the rest of the exhibition space by heavy, black curtains. Inside, a projector will beam images on to a perspex back-projection screen hanging from the ceiling, accompanied by sound. So people will be physically located within the work, walking around it and casting interesting shadows while experiencing the work both aurally and visually."

Giles says the artworks could be linked to the idea of synaesthesia, where a change in one sense can lead to a change in another sense. "This is best described through music," says Giles. "Many people say they see different colours when they listen to different types of music. This exhibition plays on that."

The artworks have been put together by different processes. All have started off as a drawn illustration, a piece of film or a sound recording and have then been distorted or altered with the use of a computer programme. Giles has deliberately allowed visual works, for example, to be generated mathematically from a soundtrack using animation software, letting the software "do what it wants to do".

Giles completed a Masters in Chemistry, and worked afterwards as a scientist in the field of plant disease resistance, before doing a Fine Arts degree at Massey University. He started off mostly doing traditional canvas painting in the first two years before his love for the personal computer led him into working digitally for the last few years of his degree.

Not surprisingly, Giles is in the midst of a computer programming course at Victoria University. "I've experienced limitations with the software that I've been using so far. It would be great to be able to write programmes specifically for this purpose - of creating interactive abstract digital art."

Digital Phenomena opens at 5.30pm on 2 April at Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61 Abel Smith Street and will run until 17 April.