Des Kenny Reviews Lost State – Hugh McCabe and Suzanne Walsh

November 10, 2017

Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews 'Lost State' by Hugh McCabe & Suzanne Walsh ...

Lost State is collaborative exhibition by Hugh McCabe and Suzanne Walsh and is situated in the First Floor Gallery in Draíocht. Their joint endeavour explores how relics of the past become artefacts in a distant future and what we hold as a great advancement in our present culture is seen as a curious case study by archaeologists trying to understand a forlorn lost history. The combination of digital photographs and video imagery by Hugh McCabe with a sound installation by Suzanne Walsh weaves an afflicted narrative that examines a mournful fracture on a technological society which disappeared after an unnamed catastrophe.

A Three tier video screen display unveils a sequence of swaying searchlight probes across a surface that appears from a distance to be an industrial complex. On closer examination the circuitry of a computer mother board becomes evident as the light uncovers the form from the shadows. The beam of revelatory light moves slowly across the surface, penetrating the darkness releasing its secrets from the gloom. The pools of light are unable to withstand the encroaching shapeless twilight as the screen is engulfed by an impenetrable formless dark, as the screen momentarily switches off. The screens become blank in an alternate sequential fashion as if ordained by the dialogue of Suzanne Walsh’s sound installation emanating from a speaker positioned on the gallery ceiling. The light on the monitors appear to follow Suzanne’s voice as it glides across the circuit boards, affixing the random movement of the searchlights with the semblance of a meaningful context. Echoing from the speaker is the pulsating rhythm of the wind as it lifts words like fallen leaves and tosses them around the gallery. Spasmodic phrases have urgency when repeated, demanding the visitor to decipher its implication. The recurrent term “it must have been” from the imploring narrator creates an atmosphere of foreboding since its incantation has no recognisable foundation.

At times the narration eases into descriptive passages, such as “E724 had hair line cracks” and “the marks never open” that appear to address the formal qualities of the materials under observation. Inexplicably a question seeps from the speaker inquiring “is there a threat” without defining the danger. The layers of interpretation within the dialogue, creates an open portal for the visitors imagination to explore.

Black and white digital photographs of computer parts hang starkly upon the walls of the upper gallery space. The clinical white border surrounding the images deepens the grainy intensity of the subject matter as the edges blur and slip into the hooded shadows. Dust particles gather obscuring numbers and letters, presenting a mood of decay and degeneration. They are obsolete components from a previous generation and culture and their fragmented nature prevents restoration. A tempered mood of loss prevails as the remnant parts are recast as relics of a nostalgic history that remains irretrievable.  All the while the disembodied voice of the narrator follows the viewer around the gallery alluding to societies past fate that remains trapped and locked in the hardware. She implores sadly “only remember what can be taken” but is unable to breach the silence from the inane computer parts.

The two diverse artistic disciplines of Suzanne Walsh and Hugh McCabe, combine to create a visionary account of a future beyond our digital age, that mourns its tragic demise. The seeds of this future history are taking root in the cracks of today’s environment.


Lost State – Hugh McCabe and Suzanne Walsh
Thu 19 Oct – Sat 04 Nov 2017 
First Floor Gallery, Draíocht Blanchardstown


Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.


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