Artist Mark Davey Finds Links Between Human and Machine

MArk Davey, Untitled 1 (1290x960 304 Stainless steel Panel), 2015,  stainless steel, aluminum, painted steel, 96 cm x 129 cm
MArk Davey, Untitled 1 (1290×960 304 Stainless steel Panel), 2015, stainless steel, aluminum, painted steel, 96 cm x 129 cm

On the other side of an industrial shutter on a back street in Bethnal Green lies the Ryder Projects Space. A modest space that aims to support emerging and mid-career artists by providing an environment that encourages experimentation and critical engagement. Marc Davey’s sculptural works are currently on show and explore the dynamics of the all-pervading machine in urban environments.

This ex-industrial garage could not be a better location for Davey’s body of work, which predominantly comprises found objects from manufacturing sites. An old chain suspended from the ceiling looks at peace nearby a work titled “Hold” consisting of chain link fencing, painted steel with pink and blue fluorescent lights. Although constructed with the language of machine technologies, a sense of internal sensuality is evoked. Larger pieces are in balance with smaller pieces unobtrusively situated amongst the architectural openings and crevices in the walls; remnants of the room’s past uses.

Mark Davey, Hold, 2015, Painted steel, fluorescent lights, chain-link fence, stainless steel, 73 cm x 60 cm. All photos courtesy of the artist and The RYDER, London
Mark Davey, Hold, 2015, Painted steel, fluorescent lights, chain-link fence, stainless steel, 73 cm x 60 cm. All photos courtesy of the artist and The RYDER, London
Mark Davey, Us, 2015,  steel, motor and fluorescent light, 210 cm x 200 cm x 35 cm
Mark Davey, Us, 2015, steel, motor and fluorescent light, 210 cm x 200 cm x 35 cm

The works are both visually and aurally seductive. For instance, the piece “Us” consists of two identical motors next to each other that trigger two fluorescent lights to move from side to side in a repetitive ticking motion much like the hands of a clock. The swaying lights become two figures in synchronous oscillation. You could lose track of time standing for hours watching this mesmerising piece with its hypnotic lights and the sound of metal, which is somehow soft and soothing.

Mark Davey, Trackpad, 2015, copper, patina fingerprints, 11 cm x 8 cm
Mark Davey, Trackpad, 2015, copper, patina fingerprints, 11 cm x 8 cm
MArk Davey, After you Left, 2015, painted steel and copper, 22 cm x 42 cm
MArk Davey, After you Left, 2015, painted steel and copper, 22 cm x 42 cm

A suggestion of human interaction in the creation of the works has been purposely made visible. Traces are etched on to the surface of a metal panel and objects have been meticulously placed in accordance with the elements that hold them together. Light from the fluorescent bulbs is reflected and bounced about on the various metallic surfaces, creating movement and a sort of performativity between the viewer and work. This interplay of light, sound and motion adds a harmonious quality enabled through the careful curation of the works in the space. Davey reminds us of the tenderness that can be found in the relationships between human and machine. He draws our attention to the reliance on machines to facilitate human relationships in a perpetually switched on culture.

Text by Naomi Ellis

Mark Davey’s “Blend” is at Ryder Projects, London, until 6 February 2016

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