The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

The idea of inanimate objects seemingly coming to life and even predicting our thoughts is a frankly terrifying proposition, but a poignant one which will be explored by Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey as part of  upcoming Liverpool exhibition The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things.

Miroslav Tichy, Homade Camera, courtesy foundation Tichy Ocean

Source: Roman Buxbaum

Miroslav Tichy, Homade Camera, courtesy foundation Tichy Ocean

Organisers say, ‘As modern technology becomes ever more sophisticated and pervasive, objects communicate with us: phones talk back, refrigerators suggest recipes and websites anticipate our desires.’

Leckey, who is curating the exhibition, discovers things aren’t so dumb after all, as he, and several other artists explore that liminal space between virtual and real.

A version of Temple Grandin's Squeeze/Hug Machine
A version of Temple Grandin’s Squeeze/Hug Machine

It chimes with the phrase ‘internet of things’, a term being banded about with abandon these days.

Although definitions vary, think connected inanimate objects – we are talking about things that connect to each other or the internet at large – and things that can connect with us like never before.

A version of Temple Grandin's Squeeze/Hug Machine
A version of Temple Grandin’s Squeeze/Hug Machine

It was a talking point at Vegas tech show CES last month and in more explorative way, will be addressed by  artists Thomas Bayrle, Louise Bourgeois, William Blake, Prunella Clough, Jim Shaw and Tøyen in Liverpool next week.

Although this exhibition, rather then exploring an internet of things, is looking at what it calls ‘techno-animism’ – the inanimate coming to life.

Cyberman with Gargoyle
Cyberman with Gargoyle

We are promised archeological artifacts, contemporary artworks, and machines, joined up as a network of objects within the gallery.

These include a clay concept car, a medieval stone gargoyle, an Egyptian cat mummy, a 13th-century hand-shaped silver reliquary, a version of Temple Grandin’s Squeeze/Hug Machine (designed to calm hyper-sensitive persons), a mandrake root, the original bronze cast of the Lindow bog man’s reconstructed head, and a 1940s model of a cat used to demonstrate reflexes.

Elad Lassry, Devon Rex 2011 Courtesy of White Cube London and David Kordansky Gallery Los Angeles
Elad Lassry, Devon Rex 2011 Courtesy of White Cube London and David Kordansky Gallery Los Angeles

It probably won’t take much digital sorcery to bring these chilling objects to life.

Model of a cat to test reflexes

Source: Science Museum

Model of a cat to test reflexes

The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things: Curated by Mark Leckey, a Hayward Touring exhibition from Southbank Centre opens on 16 February and runs until 14 April 2013 at the Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool, L1 3BX

Latest articles