Marcus Coates: WORKPLACE GATESHEAD

7 March - 18 April 2015

Workplace  Gallery is delighted  to present  our fourth  solo exhibition  at our  gallery in Gateshead of  new work by  Marcus  Coates. For this  exhibition,  Coates presents  three new works that  set out  the scope  of a  wider enquiry.  Central to  this is the  re-animation of our intersubjectivity with natural kinds.

 

The  Sounds of  Others,  2014  is an audiovisual installation,  a  comparative study  of diverse animal vocalisation  including humans.  These sounds range  from blue  whale calls  to insect stridulations. The voice of a species is slowed down or sped up which transforms its pitch and duration.  Large custom  built  LED  displays show  the name  of the  animal and  the changing speed of  its sound.  The  blue  whale  starts  at  normal  speed  and  then  increases  to  115x  this speed  until  it  sounds  very  similar  to  the  next  species  played  at  normal  speed –a  spotted redshank  (bird),  which  in  turn  speeds  up  to  sound  similar  to  a  bush  cricket,  which  slowed down sounds like a common tree frog and so on. The installation moves from one species to another finding points of resemblance between their songs and calls, drawing a relative line of connection between 24 species. For Coates, this represents a new taxonomy based on sound, where a  gibbon is  closely related  to a  canary and  a  shrew to a  curlew.  He suggests that revealing and occupying many more points of identification are possible and even advisable, as our physical capacity  (sensory range), as well as our cultural means for knowing and relating to the non-human world, are limited.

 

Relatives (agitated water) 1997-2015  is a  large scale  photograph. An image  of flat water taken from above has formed  ripples and  patterns caused  by  the  disturbance  of  its  surface. The print is high contrast, creating extreme tonal values suggesting an appearance of solidity to reveal forms, that with increasing scrutiny appear like human faces, not unlike cartoons or early  gothic  contortions.  The  anthropomorphic  gaze  suggests  that  this  frozen  moment exposes  an  inhabited  entity.  As  we  recognise  our  compulsion  to  see  our  human  likeness  in the inanimate, we are arguing with rationalism. We might not call these illusions our relatives or spirits, but at some level this recognition invites belief. The photograph is a celebration of this, a re-animation and investment in the life of an inanimate natural kind.In Questions  &  Answers2015,  a single  channel  HD video  work.  We  see  Coates  running  a weeklong workshop for 6 members of the public. The aim is to learn skills that will enable the group to find insight or even answer the questions we all struggle with, the sort of questions we carry around with us and never seem to get answered. The process involves committing oneself  to  inhabiting  a  world  that  makes  itself  in  your  imagination,  in  an  attempt  to  acquire information  that  you  can  rationally  use  to  pragmatic  ends.  The  group  consult  a  variety  of ‘clients’  including people they approach on the street, community members and the Mayor’s office, City Hall, London.