There is no There There draws attention to multiple forms of implicit contemporary violence, all of which historically stem from an ‘original sin’ of linguistic reductionism. Through language, the complexities of our experiences are reduced by a process of encoding – “Media [transforms] all input – Including the organic bodies that function as intrinsic component pieces of the assemblage – into ‘code’” (Fisher, 2018).
Acting as a caveat, the exhibition is fronted by a debossed print under black light, delineating the sprawling definitions associated with the search query: ‘nature’. The linguistic contradictions within this display subtly guide the experience of the work at large.
Pequeno’s assemblage unveils itself over time, materialising the linguistic slippages in our defining of nature, seen in ‘flag’, ‘thunderstorm’ and ‘nature’ itself.
Moving through the space, the show centres around the viewer, functioning as one work assembled from composite pieces. The mediation between these elements replicates the oddity of contemporaneity, displaying both the presence and absence of corporeality, simultaneously. Combining the real with the virtual, he presents both a physical installation and a digitally- rendered ‘mirror-world’; a computer- generated landscape with weather, grass and sky that, despite being biologically ‘deadened’ – lacking substrate – still swarms with strange animacies.
Sounds are composed by a generative AI, trained on sound bites of the tag ‘nature’ from digital archives.
The sky is machine generated text-to-image ‘thunderstorm’ – directly linked to the text in the debossed print in the hallway. The abrasive result reflects upon the confusing desire to define nature; however, these imperfections are paradoxically definitive of nature in itself. Acknowledging the site as a house, he brings the issue of ownership into an ecological domain. Floating screens in the apartment illuminate photogrammetry of various flowers, rendered in greenscreen green. The depictions reference floriography (the cryptographic process of inscribing emblematic meaning to flowers). However, they appear broken – the inability for the program to sufficiently render the origins elucidates the process and effect of malfunction; an unattainable technological definition. The black light on the debossed prints in the hallway returns again to the absurdist gesture of linguistic description: there cannot be a ‘black light’, when the colour black is the absence of light. The sense of “loss” experienced here is present throughout the show: the turf on the roof is without soil foundations – the subtraction of structures for life defines the motif.
Although au plein air, the rooftop feels removed from anything like nature (collectively shaped and without purpose) or freedom. The (inherently signaletic) flagpole communicates ownership by being planted onto the plastic grass – the dream of controlling nature through divisions and neatly mown lawns is reduced to plastic rendering, forgoing the necessity for labour in that pipe dream.
However, contradicting the balance of nature, the grass is off kilter, puncturing the show with a heavy sense of precariousness.
The boldness of the flagpole is relinquished by its chroma key banner; the green signals endless definition – commonly used in post-production to ‘key’ out images.
Fluttering in the wind, it vacillates between camouflage and decoration – materially and conceptually, it is never still. The greenscreen green of the flag and flowers places nature in ever- undefinable flux, subject to symbolic desire.
Described in ‘Keywords’ by Raymond Williams; “Nature is perhaps the most complex word in the language”. *Defined: The indicated thing, person, or subject has no distinctive identity, characteristics or functional centre; nothing substantial exists in that place or occurs in that situation.
Exhibition duration: 4 – 25 May 2021