_ Nation’s Wealth
As Edinburgh’s Science Festival swings into full tilt, J o McNamara visits a photographic exhibition on the relationship between power, wealth and architecture. Below, Beatrice Colin reports from Glasgow on an imaginative way of educating children, and adults, in the ways of environmentalism.
A suitable subtitle for this exhibition of photographs by John Fraser, David Fox and Tony Roberts could be ‘The Secret Life of Cities’.
Together they set out to expose not the physical fabric of the urban landscape, but the social and
economic relationships that underpin its structure.
In a culture where obsolescence is a virtue, destruction is not an end state, but an ongoing process. Their images describe the city as a capitalist artefact, built to be torn down. Those anachronistic fragments of the past that do remain are reminders of the one thing that never changes: the relationship between power and money.
Tony Roberts and David Fox’s large-scale images take in both senses of the word ‘capital’. Their series can be read like a sci-ft comic strip — the viewer travels on a beam of light into a darkened city of fractured planes and shattered images. A sense of threat hangs over this journey ‘ into the heart of the capital. There is a threatening
LISTINGS: GLASGOW 49 EDI
atmosphere of surveillance and symbols of power loom large on either side.
Neither of these collaborators is primarily a photographer, but these works reﬂect their experiences as architect and artist/filmmaker, respectively. They draw, too, on the uneasy relationship between art, photography and advertising. In fact one piece in the series is back-lit, an effective way of highlighting their awareness of advertising techniques.
Since the works in this show were mostly devised in the 19805, inevitably they constitute a critique on the values of that decade. John Fraser’s Living Pictures, Still Lives challenges the facade of the Brave New Britain, built on Victorian values,
David Fox and Tony Roberts ‘challenge the iacade oi the Brave New Britain'
phoney statistics and intricate lies.
Particularly he challenges the cult of nostalgia and heritage which still permeates contemporary values. We cannot, he suggests, build ourselves security by re-creating a mythological past. In his works the hypocrisies of 19th century paternalistic philanthropy and 20th century corporate values are isolated and scrutinised, and these images are accompanied by paradoxical, ironic captions.
While it must be said that the themes of this exhibition are not new, they are presented in an intelligent way. Moreover, the whole is visually satisfying.
(Dreams of) Cities of Destruction is at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, until 9 May.
_ g ...and
Every morning children in a dance class which complements this show pretend to be wind and water. Their bodies merge into a seething mass oi unhamessed movement. Trying to save the endangered planet is a battle some people refuse to light, so this show directs itseli at the ones who will have no choice but to do something.
‘Power irom llature’ is a multimedia exhibition which Incorporates text, Illustration, models, video and machinery. Aimed at the sensory route to the brain, it is a colouriul and imaginative show, with plenty oi Interaction and participation. The approach ls inionnative, but not
Schoolchildren exploring the causes oi the greenhouse eiiect
dogmatic. it begins with an explanation 1 greenhouse. Inside, children's oi those uneasy iacts most preier to ignore: the ilnite nature oi iossii iuels, ozone depletion and acid rain. Arrows marlr a route which leads through a
: picture-puzzle boxes include images oi toy cars and models in cartoon-like landscapes which depict the causes ol
In twenty years time, we could obtain 50 per cent oi our fuel from natural sources. Wind, sun, water and blogas- energy lrom waste products — are explored, and electric models show how they can be converted into energy. Wind turbines (Scotand is the windiest country in Europe), solar power, breakwaters and hydro-electric stations are detailed and explained.
Elsewhere, a doll's house, only hali insulated, has pull-out rooms with cartoon draughts inside, revealing the waste at energy in most households. A picture with push-buttons which light up tiny electric bulbs, shows why only a third oi energy that leaves the national grid reaches us, and a model oi new ‘energy-aware’ architecture shows how natural light and ventilation can be utilised.
This is a thoroughly user-iriendly exhibition, aimed at children but oi universal importance. ltwould, oi course, be tremendous lun lithe reality were not so immediately bleak.
Powerlrom Nature is at the Collins Gallery, Glasgow, until 25 April.
The List 10- 23 Aprilﬁlw992 47