Critics’ Picks

Ross Manning, Bricks and Blocks, 2016, LCD TV, video camera, fluorescent lights, mirror, dimensions variable.


Ross Manning

Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
420 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
August 5–October 28

In this mid-career survey of Brisbane artist Ross Manning, everyday electronics—along with their prescribed, ubiquitous purposes—are deconstructed to show the fundamental wonders of light, movement, and sound. Many works brilliantly exploit the mechanics and science behind analog projectors, giving (a nearly obsolete) technology new life as kinetic sculptures and immersive installations. In the first room, the artist has constructed Spectra XIII, 2017, a free-hanging, kinetic assemblage of small electrical fans, connected to and propelling fluorescent lights that softly oscillate in opposing directions. The lights are colored to represent the basic additive RGB and CMYK color models of video screens. As a result of the sculpture’s movements, the fluorescent colors continuously mix on the surrounding walls, floor, and ceiling, mimicking in a rudimentary way the formulae used by color television.

Ross Manning’s practice spans visual art and experimental music. This exhibition, which mainly demonstrates Manning’s manipulation of modern electronics’ visual properties, also includes Wave Opus III, 2017, a large-scale percussion instrument made from a curtain of hanging aluminum tubes. Given its own room with spectator seating, this instrument-cum-artwork is operated by a mechanized rope that strikes the chimes, creating sounds that echo around the gallery space. On a grand scale, the pleasure of “Dissonant Rhythms” comes from the change of pace it offers: More often than not, technology is something one must keep up with or even anticipate, but Manning’s work encourages an audience to pause and simply appreciate what they already have.