08 May 2017
Rob Churm exhibition including newly commissioned prints and large-scale moving image work opens at CCA Glasgow in May
Glasgow-based artist Rob Churm presents Parasite Rex at CCA – an exhibition of drawings, prints, comic strips and digital elements, many produced in collaboration with other artists – that explore new ways of seeing and describing the world. Churm’s work takes in a variety of references from science and weird-fiction, new-material, post human thought and cult film, layering them to construct stories that echo the life he is living.
Parasite Rex includes a new series of prints, developed with Glasgow Print Studio. These works play with neural network software to produce hybrid images of existing drawings. A similar process is repeated in a set of large-scale works, copying and merging existing drawings by hand.
A new large-scale moving-image work, filmed in the CCA Galleries specifically for the space, forms part of the show. Produced with sound artist and long-term collaborator Joe Howe, the ongoing film project sees the artists construct layers of moving image and animation with the aid of a digital environment, playing with improvisation, mishap and delay.
The exhibition also includes the launch of a new comic book as part of The Exhaustion Hook, an ongoing narrative project that functions as “a place to put all the in-between goop, performance anxieties, alter egos, interviews, etc.”
Churm regularly collaborates with other artists, organising projects that include Fantom Cinema with Marc Baines and Torsten Lauschmann, as well as Prawn’s Pee – a daily newspaper produced with Rebecca Wilcox, Oliver Pitt and Ben Ashton for Glasgow International. Documentation of live performance and ephemera from these projects will also be on display.
A performance with Kathryn Elkin, City Vegetables and Blood Stereo will take place on Friday 16 June. Elkin’s performance with Churm will be a development of their 2015 performance Imaginary Magnitude at Glasgow Project Room and stars Pramé, an alien who appears in Churm’s comic books and drawings. City Vegetables is a live comic book and the solo project of Malcy Duff, comic book creator and performer of weird noise comedies with Ali Robertson as Usurper. Malcy has previously appeared with Churm in DCA Thompson (2016). Blood Stereo are Brighton-based duo Karen Constance and Dylan Nyoukis who layer tape manipulations with preverbal improvisations to make an absurd and demonic sound.
Churm said: “I'm kind of collaborating, kind of documenting the practices of my peers and presenting some of that in the exhibition alongside my own practice so we can see where it overlaps and how practices can inform each other. This is true also for the artists taking part in the performance event. All the acts share an approach to art that embraces the ideas of Dada and its offspring, psychedelia and weirdo punk stuff.”
Many of Churm’s comic strips and drawings elaborate on research into the workings of the brain, psychological phenomena and scientific experimentation – forming semi-fictionalised narratives about artists’ and practitioners’ obsessions and working processes. Tendencies toward obsessiveness are reflected in his often mathematical and scrupulous approach to composition, but this is set against an ever-present sense of irony and the depiction of multifarious, humorous and bizarre fates that await his characters.
Recent work focuses on the sequential aspects of his drawing practice, allowing ideas to cascade and weirdness to grow. Strange stories and characters emerge from the work as actors. Attempts to organise the flow of imagery become symbolic of a dialectical argument and complex compositions are generated by consistently breaking a simple set of rules.
CCA Curator Ainslie Roddick said: “We have been building a relationship with Rob for a long time now; he is an artist that gives so much to the rest of the city with his communal projects and experimental event programming every year. He has developed a huge body of work for this show incorporating layers of strange research, weird stories and collaborative ventures, reflecting on the condition of being an artist and the psychic pressures inflicted on this role. We're really looking forward to seeing this ambitious array of material come together in the space.”
A film screening of Andrew Bujalksi’s Computer Chess and Peter Burr’s Pattern Language on Thursday 1 June will accompany the exhibition.
Set over the course of a weekend tournament for chess software programmers in the 1980s, Computer Chess introduces eccentric geniuses with the vision to teach a computer to defeat humans at chess and lays the groundwork for artificial intelligence as we will come to know it in the future. Pattern Language is a term coined by architect Christopher Alexander which describes the aliveness of certain human ambitions through an index of structural patterns. In this piece, the vocabulary of Alexander’s system is employed towards the construction of an endlessly mutating labyrinth. It premiered at 3-Legged Dog Art & Technology Center, New York as a 4-channel video installation and has since been adapted to film.
Churm said: “I chose the films because they are both really great in their own right but also because I thought they would be useful pieces of work to signal an interest in patterns... patterns of speech, of thought, and of behaviour. This is a thread throughout the work in the exhibition – how bringing a variety of patterns together can allow us to see the shape of the gaps between things, and a way of describing things that are really hard to describe.…“
Parasite Rex opens at CCA on Friday 26 May, with an opening night party until 2am.