Joey Holder is an artist with multiple websites, multiple research strands and multiple digital personas; the connecting factor seemingly being the disparate connecting force of the world wide web. At Bloc Projects, the solo exhibition Adcredo shouts a hyper-aware force dissecting, explaining and complicating the relationship to our inherent belief systems.
A super-sized research mind map in the form of an explosion library is pasted across the white entrance walls by way of greeting. The connecting vinyl threads emphasises the complexities of an exhibition and research project about the perceived political spectrum and how external political networks can alter personal and group beliefs and ideologies. What we know to be true can be found to be untrue, or we can be led to believe this.
The dark and claustrophobic exhibition blacks out the space with menacing wall and floor coverings. Like walking into the fiery pits of hell, you enter the small gallery space and are instantly hit by a wave of uncertainty that is overpowering. Flames, threatening statements and dark clouds vibrate across the floor and walls in a consuming manner. A heavy atmosphere, perhaps from the April showers rainclouds I have just run through to get here, presses down above, or perhaps it is the murky and oppressive environment I have entered which is reminiscent of early nineties sci-fi films depicting the inner workings of computers and the internet where everything could be overly visualised.
The room is wrapped in a vinyl like wall paper, covering the walls and on part the floor, text in the form of short dramatic statements on the walls makes reference to the ‘primordial swamp’ and ‘monsters’ which is reflected in the mutating, unstable landscape within the temporary environment. Internal elements of the room have been left uncovered which highlight the breaks in not just the possibilities of an exhibition but also the fact that even if media and belief systems are all around us there should always a break in the connection, a way out, an escape if we can find it. The Truth is Out There.
The floor is littered with coal, some shattered from the movement of feet, some in piles heaped near the mutated walls, trying to give a material sense to digital art works. What this adds, however, is perhaps lost as digital works will always have a physical presence in a space through the devices with which we need to watch or interact. Or, perhaps the inclusion of this scattered fuel is a reference to carbon and our media and political system’s reliance on this base element: digital networks using millennia old carbon in our quest for truth, knowledge and power.
A monitor, attached to a speaker podium-like scaffold structure, stands at the head of the room, elevated and alter-like it beams down on you while you navigate the shattered carbon coal to peer at the writing on the walls. Part cave painting, part advertising banner, part teenage angst slogans. The monitor visualises disjointed characters, talking heads of convoluted world leaders and internet memes. Trump, Putin and Pepe the Frog all echo across the screen with monologues or quiet disinterest. They speak of the collective unconscious and of shifting meanings and mutating associations. A liquid digital present, a new-age primordial swamp.
Change and the process of change are trends within the work, the metamorphosis of characters, of news, of avatars and beliefs; the changing states of play and the changing way in which we inter-operate with things according to our ever expanding influences and experiences. We can alter our own belief networks by being led by new groups, new news, new leaders, but what do we question and when do we begin to question it?
It was noted that the timing of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the mining, storage and passing of data from millions of Facebook users, used for the targeting and manipulation of voters in election races, came at the right time for an exhibition exploring construction of online networks and fantasies. The exhibition’s complex task of understanding, prior to this, was well positioned to reflect this news story, highlighting the ways in which we take part in, are consumed by and acknowledge the passive passing of data and the ways we are collectively manipulated through these complex systems and electronic mechanisms.
Adcredo: The Deep Belief Network by Joey Holder, Bloc Projects, Sheffield, 13 April – 5 May 2018.
Adcredo is being shown at Bloc Projects followed by a new iteration to be shown at QUAD, Derby in July which will continue the research process.
Abi Mitchell is a writer and programmer based in the North of England, co-founder and member of SPUR, an arts commissioning collective, and Programme Coordinator at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester.