They Had Four Years @ Generator Review

Article by Ben Robinson | 08 Jun 2010

For the past decade the Generator’s annual graduate showcase, They Had Four Years, has firmly established itself as the platform for many a glittering art career. Since last year the field for shortlisted artists has been expanded to take in colleges from across Scotland, making the show a reasonably accurate gauge of the national scene. On those terms 2010 proves itself an especially fine vintage. The three artists each use film as part of an installation to strikingly different ends.

On entering the building, the audience finds itself in a distinctly retro-looking waiting room that houses Alasdair Smith’s Maarhaysu Institute. This mysterious “outsider science organisation” produces ULTRA SCIENTIFICA, a vintage TV series presented by Prof. Ahabraham Sexian whose credentials could maybe use some verification. “If you wish to make a meat pie from scratch, you must first invent meat,” Sexian intones solemnly. Amid the potted plants and office furniture a few giggles start breaking out among the Institute’s visitors.

Meanwhile, next door the vividly coloured digital video of Edinburgh alumnus Rachel MacLean is casting a hyper-radiant glow. Going Bananas! gives the lurid spectacle of bunny girls being chased by the titular fruit with cameos from Jesus and Paris Hilton. Projected into a gallery populated by gaudy pseudo-religious icons, the sensation is akin to finishing off a whole bag of fizzy Haribo sweets in the space of ten minutes. It’s sickly yet compulsive.

In the final room Jonathan Long’s work From A, C, P and W presents a tone that’s a marked contrast, a stop frame animation that employs the conventions of horror films to poignant and disquieting effect. Pulsating sounds reverberate onto the viewer as imagery of flying knives and an onlooking eye are edited to communicate a taut, forbidding narrative of impending doom. Taken together this edition of TH4Y is a truly varied and accomplished affair, auguring well for all involved.