Lucas Davidson’s features rumple, stretch and overlap, his eye occasionally catching ours through the contorting flow. In a strange loop of permanent impermanence, Davidson has disrupted the notion of ‘fixing’ a photographic image. Once it is printed the artist floats the photograph’s skin away from the surface of the paper, allowing it to drift freely in liquid, and filming the self-portrait it in this constant state of flux. This method can be seen in the video work Under Continual Revision, the printed membrane twisting on the screen like a spectre. I am a Strange Loop sees Davidson interrogate the photographic self-portrait through a series of different but related techniques. In the pigment print A Solely Internal Affair fingers have pushed and scraped at the near-illegible photograph’s tissue-like skin, clawing to reach beneath the surface. In the work Death as a Companion to Living from the same suite, black tears in the tissue’s topographic folds appear like creatures migrating across a landscape. In Advance of Not Knowing finds the skin of Davidson himself more visible however it is scratched and smudged with random and violent marks, which appear simultaneously on the image’s surface and on the skin itself. Davidson is testing the waters of abstraction, using self-portraiture as his launch point. The photographs Unavoidable Matter and Incompleteness Theorem are both formed from black, blank images that were taken of the artist. Davidson’s image, while present in the taking of the image, has not been impressed upon the camera’s lens. In its place, the skin of the original photos have been manipulated to create effects of craquelure, striations and waves which give way to gaping black holes. They are simultaneously cellular and astronomical, a lake beyond a cave and the pupil of an eye.
The exhibition takes its title from Douglas Hofstadter’s exploration of how animate selfhood can emerge from inanimate matter. The mirror is an apt symbol of this ‘strange loop’, an artificial medium reflecting the self we have invented, defined and come to believe as true. The mirror sculptures Association Organ and Anticipation Machine reflect disrupted images of the viewer within forms based on the scale of the artist’s own body. The ascending hexagons of Anticipation Machine recall the spiral shape of DNA – an arguably truer form of self-portrait than our own reflection. Segmenting the viewer’s body into parts it forces us to consider ourselves not as an uninterrupted whole, but as pieces within the broader context of our surroundings: in this case Davidson’s installation. We are now consciously amongst the artist’s self-portraits, whose abstractness, fluidity and voids provide space in which to place ourselves and consider our own sense of perception in place of Davidson’s body. “In the end, we are self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages that are little miracles of selfreference,” Hofstadter wrote in 2007. A decade on, in a world where the camera’s lens is turned inward as often as outward; an era of selfie-specific cosmetics; where the way we view ourselves is moderated, filtered, dictated and defined by digital images, Davidson is undertaking an experiment in stripping back all image, colour and form extraneous to the viewing experience in order to activate a deeper consideration of self-perception. “I don’t know how to create something that’s not me,” the artist says. “The work is a truer self-portrait than the way I speak, or dress.” However in creating these essential self-portraits, Davidson allows the works to hold far-reaching subject-hood, questioning photography, perception and identity.
Exhibition text by Chloé Wolifson
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2017 I am a Strange Loop, DOMINIK MERSCH GALLERY, Sydney Casual Forces, Museum of Fine Arts, Croatia Frame of Mind, Verge Gallery, Sydney 2016 Animal Magnetism, Canerra Contemporary Art Space, Canberra 2015 Untitled (Flat Screens), DOMINIK MERSCH GALLERY, Sydney Model Citizen, Gallerysmith Project Space, Melbourne Habitual Loop, The Substation Centre for Art and Culture Embedded in You, ANCA Gallery, Canberra 2014 The Weight of Water, Linden New Art, Melbourne Multiple drafts model, MOP Projects, Sydney Innovators 3, Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne Agitations, Zadok Gallery, Miami 2013 Indefinite pause, Queensland Centre for Photography, Brisbane Limbo, DOMINIK MERSCH GALLERY, Sydney Immaterial, Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney 2011 Present absence, DOMINIK MERSCH GALLERY, Sydney
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2017 10 Alive & Kicking, DOMINIK MERSCH GALLERY, Sydney Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, Sydney Art Central, Hong Kong Synapse Bondi Pavilion Gallery, Sydney 2016 Identity, DOMINIK MERSCH GALLERY, Sydney Modes of Practice, Verge Gallery, Sydney Auckland Art Fair, Auckland Studio Wars, Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane Birmingham St Studios Exhibition, Art Month, Sydney 2015 NSW Visual Arts Fellowship, Artspace, Sydney Video Platform, Art Stage Singapore 15 Doing Time. Verge Gallery, Sydney Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize, National Art School Gallery Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Artists Traveling Scholarship 2014 Human Landscape, DOMINIK MERSCH GALLERY, Sydney Totally looks like, Stills Gallery, Sydney, curated by Bronwyn Rennex & Josephine Skinner Sydney goes Berlin, Galerie Patrick Ebensperger, Berlin Hangung 12, Kunstwerk Sammlung Klein, Berlin, curated by Valeria Waibel Negative capability, Alaska Projects, Sydney Contemporary fiction, Breezeblock, Sydney, curated by Elizabeth Reidy The value of nothing, Raygun Projects, Toowoomba, curated by Anna McMahon Gertrude St Projection Festival, Melbourne Orbit Melbourne, Blindside, Melbourne Burn out, Archive, Sydney, curated by Patrick Cremin Â
2013 State of flux, Delmar Gallery, Sydney, curated by Catherine Benz & Geoff Weary All that remains, Dianne Tanzer Gallery screen space, Melbourne A transposition of space, Concord Gallery, Los Angeles Fieldwork, Conductors Project / Art & About, St James + Museum Station, Sydney Ebb and flow, Articulate project space, Sydney Orbit Hobart, Constance ARI, Hobart Internal monologue, Addition Gallery, Brisbane 2012 Eon, Alaska Projects, Sydney Transitory states, La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo Laneway Festival, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney, curated by Ryzard Dabek Between us, Paper Plane Gallery, Sydney 5, DOMINIK MERSCH GALLERY, Sydney 2011 Uncover, Perth Centre for Photography, Perth Open call, Verge Gallery, University of Sydney SCA Recent works, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery Reflections, Bondi Pavilion Gallery, Sydney
‘Incompleteness Theorem’, 2017, pigment print, 92 x 62 cm, framed, edition of 3 + 1a.p.
‘Unavoidable Matter’, 2017, pigment print, 92 x 62 cm, framed, edition of 3 + 1a.p.
‘In Advance of Not Knowing’, 2017, pigment print, 52 x 76 cm, framed, edition of 3 + 1a.p.
‘Death as a Companion to Living’, 2017, pigment print, 115 x 93 cm, framed, ed. of 3 + 1a.p.
‘Under Continual Revision’, 2017, single-channel video, 8:04 mins, edition of 3 + 1a.p.
‘Association Organ’, 2017, acrylic mirror, 190 x 62 x 31 cm, edition of 1 + 1a.p.
‘Anticipation Machine’, 2017, acrylic mirror, 190 x 70 x 70 cm, edition of 1 + 1a.p.
Lucas Davidson 'I am a Strange Loop'