SPY STATION AT MICRODOT GALLERY, BELFAST

Contemporary and Old Art Reviews

SPY STATION AT MICRODOT GALLERY, BELFAST

Postby AngelaReid » Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:46 pm

SPY STATION, Brendan Jamison's latest project, opened at Microdot this week. Two vibrant-coloured works in plastic building blocks sit on top of pedestals in the centre of the space. Unlike the expected use of Lego to create a three dimensional object, instead Jamison intelligently reduces the medium to a flat glossy surface, even the top rows have a thin layer of flat black tiles.

Microdot's founder/curator David Turner has opted to display the works on easels, teasing with the relationship to painting.
In the first piece, we are presented with a fascinating cross-section of 'Teufelsberg', an artificial hill in Berlin's Grunewald forest, built from all the rubble gathered from the bombed out city centre of World War 2. On top of the hill, 5 white radomes punctuate the skyline. This is 'Field Station Berlin', an American Cold War listening station that celebrates it's 50th anniversary this year. And hidden beneath the artificial hill, the remains of a military technical training college that Hitler had constructed in 1937, depicted by Jamison complete with underground bunker.

The second work offers an aerial perspective of the field station, transforming the spy base with primary colours that highlight the connecting tunnels and distinguishing structures of the listening station. With a slight nod to an architect's plan, the shapes float in a black surrounding void that decontextualise the base from it's forest surroundings. Isolated, it becomes a space of imagination as the viewer wanders through the tunnels and around the radomes, the eye forever darting between the pulsating bursts of yellow and red that seem to dance around the composition in-between the coolness of the blues and greens.

A deep understanding of colour theory is definitely apparent in the placement of warm and cool volumes that both balance and excite the composition. Perhaps this is the greatest difference between the everyday person playing with Lego and the professional artist who can simplify forms and ignite the colour interplays to strong effect. Jamison finds his own language with this medium, just like his unique style of carving sugar cubes, he knows how to draw out the magical properties in even the most widely used materials and this is where we see the strength of his vision.

But we also must not forget Turner's vision for his new gallery, with this current exhibition seeming like the perfect fit of two great minds. The use of Microdots in the world of espionage (to reduce information or imagery into little dots no bigger than 1 millimetre) was widely used during the Cold-War and this connects perfectly with Jamison's research into the intelligence community over the past year. Also, with the recent revelations by former intelligence officer Edward Snowden (1983-) which criticised American and British spying and even the wikileaks campaign last year, it seems the topic of international espionage and surveillance has never been more relevant. Microdot succeeds in delivering a fresh exhibition that connects with the richness of the past and the relevance of the present. The aesthetics of espionage is as alluring as the appeal of a James Bond movie or a John le Carré (1931-) spy novel. The spy theme in the visual arts can exert as equally an engaging magnetic charge that pulls us into its shadowy world of danger, excitement and child-like wonder.

'Spy Station' continues at Microdot until Sunday August 18th, daily viewing between 10am to 5pm. Located at Unit 13 in Haymarket Arcade (accessible via Royal Avenue or Gresham Street) with daily evening access from 5-11pm via Hudson's Bar into Hudson's Yard at the rear. For further information visit http://www.brendanjamison.com and http://www.microdot.info

Photography credit: David Turner
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