Review: No Such Thing As Gravity, FACT

No Such Thing As Gravity, FACT, 2016

No Such Thing As Gravity
10th November 2016 – 5th February 2017, FACT.

Words & Images, Julia Johnson, Messy Lines

For all that they are usually pigeonholed as separate disciplines, the worlds of art and science have many parallel interests.

Both are trying to make sense of the world around us, in part by asking how the appearance of the world relates to a deeper reality. But while science is looking for facts, art has free rein to be quirkier with its investigations, and what it does with the results. FACT’s No Such Thing As Gravity exhibition explores the collaboration between science and art not as one which exists to give us answers, but to make us ask questions.

Each of the artists here have created work which explores a different path of science. So Evelina Domnich and Dmitry Gelfand’s room turns particles from something which you abstractly know exist, into a visible reality.

Helen Pynor takes over Gallery 2 in a similar vein of exposing the truth, bringing her audience face-to-face with the uncomfortable reality of death. Other artists have ventured into the space between theory and application by creating objects. But even these are for different purposes – Nick Laessing’s Water Gas Car is about practical solutions for the future, whereas Tania Candiani’s Machine for Flying Besnier hangs from the ceiling of the main hall as a celebration of dreamers and possibilities.

Then there are the pieces which explore more abstract questions about the nature of reality.  Science may be looking for facts, but along the road to discovery there is plenty of time for disputing what the facts may turn out to be. Some of the concepts explored here are quite fanciful, such as Yin Ju-Chen’s filmic interpretation of the “spooky action” between quantum particles, Action At A Distance.

Then there is Sarah Sparkes’ foyer installation The GHost Formula.  Ghosts may be a fanciful concept to most of the scientific community, but the amount of literature featured in this installation demonstrates their power as an idea. They can be a source of both fear and comfort, a certainty and an irrationality. Sparkes is interested in what ghosts tell us about perception, and the highlight of the space is her GHost Tunnel portal (the other end being in Williamson Tunnels). Designed in collaboration with neuroscientists specifically to make you feel a ‘presence’, its effective enough to give even the most rational participant a shiver of the uncanny.

Director of FACT Mike Stubbs opened this exhibition by stating that FACT believes in a STEAM agenda – giving art a place of equal relevance to Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths. In a world of increasing cynicism towards “experts”, perhaps the “A” of art is needed more than ever to help us comprehend the value of the pursuit of knowledge.

No Such Thing As Gravity makes an excellent case for this agenda by asking questions about the nature of your knowledge and preparing your mind for a life of enquiry.

Keep up to date with the exhibition & events with FACT’s website, here.