News From the Sun (group show)

Phoenix Arts Centre, Exeter

29 Mar – 11 May 2013

Adam Dix, Martin Fletcher:Systems House, Peter Macdonald, Charlie Tweed

This exhibition brings together several artists who explore ideas around how technology, architecture and design can offer the promise of a utopian future, one that will inevitably fail to unfold as predicted.

In JG Ballard’s 1981 short story News From the Sun, he uses the phrase ‘nostalgia for the future’, a theme that pervades throughout his fiction, hand-in-hand with one of fin-de-siècle decline and dissolution in the fabric of society.

Typified by references to the physical structures of communication technology such as satellite dishes, pylons and antennae, each artist also utilises a level of intensive, handcrafted process in the creation of their work. A strong sense of subverted or obsolete modernity points to the possible futures promised by mid-20th century technological optimism, tempered by the darker realities and alternative futures that could, and have arrived instead.

In a variety of ways, each captures something of Ballard’s uncanny prescience in regard to the environmental and social effects of technology, and an interest in the powerful symbolism of the physical trappings of modernity.