Robin Thomson @ Generator Projects

Article by Ben Robinson | 01 Nov 2010

Duncan of Jordanstone graduate Robin Thomson returned to Dundee recently for a two-week gallery residency at Generator Projects, putting together an epic and immersive video and sculptural installation.

This multi-screen project contemplates the very beginnings of recorded sound and is based on an 1860 phonautograph recording, conjuring up a few of the ghosts lurking within this particular machine.

In the first gallery we see slides of desolate urban landscapes and expanses of parkland, a disconcerting backdrop for a loudspeaker suspended from the centre of the ceiling. Suitably primed, we step into the principle display for what the artist describes as “a kind of spontaneous wiretap or short-circuiting of sequential talk.” Invoking the spirits of scientific luminaries Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, these dusty precursors are channelled into a vivid phantasmagoria.

On a large screen in the main room Thomson’s 25-minute film By the Light of the Moon plays. Against a backdrop of retina-scorching computer graphics and backed by a soundtrack of cut-up and reconfigured voices, an eclectic cast of characters act out a multi-sensory carnival. A scientist wearing a rubber mask, American Indians, ghosts and monsters all parade through a lysergic landscape that reimagines the source’s crackly recording as a shamanistic tech-fair.

Given that his present job is acting as social media maestro for the electroclash act Peaches, it comes as little shock to see that Thomson is adept at producing savvy imagery. More interestingly he has created an environment that fizzes with energy, a ghost story for our web-2.0 fireside. [Ben Robinson]