Set back from the bustling streets of London’s financial district is Glacier, Charles Atlas’ new 4-channel video installation presented at Bloomsberg Space, created in partnership with South London Gallery. Floor to ceiling projections fill the expansive space producing an, at times overwhelming, immersive environment formed with images selected from the Bloomsberg digital archives.
Scenes of packed train stations and conveyer belts transporting mass produced goods are interspersed with footage of ice melting, a solo flame and overhead shots of forestry. The relationships constructed by the juxtaposition of these archive recordings suggest the interconnected nature of human life and earth cycles. The constant rotation of images forms a rhythmic and cyclical motion internal to the installation consistent with the general presentation of the multi-channel work on a 12 minute loop. This motion appears to resonate with the naturalistic substance of the imagery whilst possibly indicating a resistance to the separation of form and content.
Accompanying the projections is an excerpt from Zeros by Bruce Gilbert, released on Mego’s Oblivio Agitatum in 2009. The choice of drone-based sound seems particularly apt as it helps to create a timeless quality due to the lack of noticeable melodic progression.
At one point, onto each wall is projected a slightly varied scene taken from outside of the window, the view of the imposing white brick offices of Triton Court, creating a sort of hidden space based on what lies beyond the gallery walls. It is this technique which, ironically, really encloses you within the installation and encourages a perspective distanced from the outside city life. It is, in more ways than one, a space of reflection.
Its central location seems key to the curation of Glacier, as the installation directly responds to the immediate environment outside, but also in that this, not always so subtle, critique of mass production is placed within the heart of London’s business capital.
As the constant stream of traffic passes by and people walk past with their heads down, it is their lack of engagement with the viewer and non-confrontational presentation which allows the voyeurism of spectation, whilst in the same instance immersing the spectator as participant within the installation. It engenders an experience in which one is both active and passive, which again could suggest a refusal to reproduce the simplistic binaries often used to describe human experience.
Charles Atlas: Glacier, 25 January - 31 March, Bloomberg Space, 50 Finsbury Square, London, EC2A 1HD.