Yuri Pattison’s work explores the multiple relationships between visual cultures, space, communication technologies and information circulation. While digital economies favor the ideology of mobility and the weightlessness of cloud technology as systems of reference, the London-based artist aims to visualise the Internet’s political and social associations from a physical perspective. Spanning sculpture, video, photography and websites, often juxtaposed or dispersed, Pattison’s work employs data and metadata, along with a mixture of factual materials, archival sources and historical fragments, to construct complex narratives with fictional scripts that lean towards conspiracy theory and science fiction.
Pattison is currently at work on the project Enquire to Annotate as part of the Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency (2014–2016). Comprising a website (http://enquire.work), a series of networked sculptures and various events, Enquire explores the shifting relationship between technology, creative work and social life by focusing on the rapidly evolving ecology of East London’s Tech City. The results will be shown in an exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, London, in summer 2016.
Spanning various models of co-working spaces, Enquire investigates the nature of skill-sharing and the aesthetic vocabulary employed by these spaces and communities. Each chosen location hosts a discussion event and displays a series of networked sculptures. The sculptures are left unfinished and morphing: open to adapt to their surroundings, they absorb aspects of the spatial design of the spaces in which they’re presented, the elements looping back onto themselves.
Data and metadata visualize the geopolitics of networked technologies
The complex narratives employed in some of Pattison’s most recent works blur the line between what is constructed and what is observed. The Ideal (2015) connects sculptures, a video and a website (theideal.exchange) to examine how Bitcoin’s virtual currency is created, its physical mining process and the conditions of labour related to its distribution across international networks. Looping footage produced in collaboration with Eric Mu, Chief Marketing Officer of Beijing Bitcoin startup HaoBTC, provides a full survey of a company-deferred Bitcoin mine in remote Kangding, Sichuan, China. The sculptures, presented through rough industrial racking, feature a model of a Bitcoin mine system and a specially created water-based cooling system in the form of a pseudo Buddhist fountain.
In Pattison’s practice, critical space and its distribution through media is used to investigate factual reality, expanding into space and the geopolitics of networked technologies. 1014 (2015), a video tour of the room in which Edward Snowden lodged while in Hong Kong, reflects the clear stylistic influence of amateur hotel room reviews and ritualistic tours of Hollywood filming locations. (This location also served as the main set of the 2014 documentary CitizenFour, observing its rapid subsumption by entertainment media whilst erasing its political value.) In Colocation, time displacement (2014), meanwhile, a roving camera navigates the interior of Pionen, a data centre run by Bahnhof AB. Situated in a former Cold War nuclear bunker, the centre was favored by Pirate Bay & Wikileaks for its approach to security. The work presents a further layer of displacement through John Titor, an online character claiming to be a time traveller from the year 2036, sent back to 1975 to retrieve outdated hardware that might defect computer programs from the future.
Pattison’s inquisitive practice seeks to unlock the invisible threads (both physical and digital) that connect political and economical systems, the results confirming that reality is indeed oftentimes stranger than fiction.
Yuri Pattison (Irish, b. 1986) is an artist who lives and works in London. He is the Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency artist for 2014–16.
As part of his Chisenhale residency, Yuri Pattison has developed a new website, sculpture and series of events called Enquire to Annotate, culminating in a solo exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery opening on 6 July. Yuri Pattison will be part of group exhibitions at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge from 14 February–10 April, and will have a solo show at Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin, later in 2016.
Attilia Fattori Franchini is an independent curator based between London and Mexico City. She is Director of Seventeen Gallery, London, as well as co-founder of the online platforms bubblebyte.org and Opening Times.
Image: The ideals (V. 0.2), 2015. Installation view at Bielefelder Kunstverein. Courtesy of the artist; Helga Maria Klosterfelde, Berlin; Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin. Photo credit: Philipp Ottendörfer.