Do you find the last year and a half confusing? Damien Roach’s all too clever show will leave you scratching your head again
The sun shines from the walls over a sea prepared for travel agencies. A base made of gold decaf Diet Cola cans supports fake sushi. In another room there is a second huge block made of thousands and thousands of Lego bricks. It is called ‘Noise’ how electronic junk crystallizes in matter: a toy that has become massively clumped and unplayable. Damien Roach’s new show is packed with tension between the digital and the physical. For every ingenious piece of hacked machine learning that is fascinatingly a masterpiece of the 17th Foam Hand and a broken cymbal.
Perhaps Roach suggests that all information, all sequences now have the same value or have no value. A flag protrudes from the wall next to a floor fan. It wasn’t on when I arrived which I thought was the point. It did so later, so the flag fluttered around. It wasn’t better or worse. A 4×4 grid of Beatles’ White Album covers hangs on the wall. Some are the famous numbered “top loaders”. Others are not. None of them are worth anything now as they are separate from the records, posters, and anal record collecting. It is hardly Ai Weiwei who smashes this 2,000-year-old vase. It’s funnier to start with – the humiliation / elevation of the mass cultural archeology of the recent (ish) past.
If you can avoid tripping over the tailgates of Ford Fiestas and Colt Lancers on the floor, this is an extremely fun show, even if you don’t necessarily know what’s going on when an animated face recites an Emily Dickinson poem that it “wrote”. . But we live in a time where, despite all the digital crap that penetrates our eyes and ears every nanosecond, the meaning of this stuff is becoming more and more precious and proscriptive: culture is being dismantled like Bitcoin. In the era of non-fungible tokenism, there is something strangely satisfying about a playing card taped face first to a wall. I mean why not?