Thursday, 29 April 2010


Time Out - London - Logo

Time Out says

At the top of the stairs, before you descend into the gallery's crypt-like basement, a single monitor offers up a rudimentary digital animation that doesn't bode too well. A diamond pattern, striped and strobing, tries vainly to burn itself on to the retina, but at best recalls digital clich├ęs, when a whole generation figured out how to reflect and reverse an image at the press of a button. But persist and it becomes apparent that this over-familiar trippy techno form is merely a peripheral element in an endeavour that is more subtly psychotropic.

Forcefield were a collective from Rhode Island who, before disbanding in 2002, produced videos and performances heavily laced with textiles and noise. Here a selection of short videos demonstrate a centrality of knitwear that effectively re-casts the opening animation as crafted patterning of traditional origins, rather than the obtuse digitalism we might have mistaken it for. The members of Forcefield appear dressed head to toe in tube-like suits in zigzagging hot pink and Martian green, layered, tight and fronded so as to disguise the human figure as a tubifex worm or alien equivalent.

In one scenario a purposeful individual crosses a road, the point of view (through a rain-dashed windscreen), establishing an anthropological us-and-them narrative. In another, four figures dance ritualistically around a totem that sways and eventually wanders off. It is this sense of looking outwards rather than inwards which rescues Forcefield's antics from pure indulgence. It suggests a performance of creativity that is critically self-aware and self-amused, and produces a weirdness that is generously evocative, derived from recognisable typologies rather than manufactured from the ground up.