It needs little explanation that upon entering an exhibition, one’s attention is naturally drawn towards the work on display. Yet how much of the experience is owed to the conditions in which the work is placed?
Under the indicative name of Post-Works, artists Melissa Appleton and Matthew Butcher focus their creativity on the environments that surround works of art, creating all-encompassing sensory backdrops to films and live performances that alter the overall experience of an exhibition space.
Their work dwells in the relatively under-explored space between art and architecture, and as tutors, their pedagogic work also spans these two realms at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, The Bartlett School of Architecture and Chelsea College of Art and Design.
Having recently exhibited at the Architecture Foundation and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (both in London, UK), their latest collaborative venture is a dual environment for London-based artist Daria Martin’s exhibition at the MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, UK. Their design accommodates Martin’s survey exhibition, which includes a series of short 16mm films made over the last 10 years and the premier of her new film, Sensorium Tests, based on a neurological condition called ‘mirror-touch synaesthethesia.’
In direct response to Martin’s work, Post-Works have created two contrasting environments in which visitors will experience the series of films. Traditional viewing environments ‘reflect the hermetic laboratory settings’ of the films exhibited in the two smaller rooms of the gallery, while the larger space encourages free-flowing movement amongst its visitors, enabling them to meander between a cluster of dark, shadowy, mysterious enclosures interrupted by phosphorescent pools of light. The effect is a deeper, more physical engagement with the projections on display that in turn strengthens the relationship between viewer and subject.
Describing this second exhibition area as ‘a space that deconstructs the traditional viewing environment and acts as a fragmented but continuous element, supporting multiple and diverse viewing experiences of the works’, Post-Works emphasise the highly emotive yet often overlooked importance of environmental context, and the virtues of acknowledging the spaces in between.