Clench: Art Post-Electric Toothbrush



6 March 2014, London – Just as modernism concerned itself with the relationship between craft and the emergent technologies of its era, the most pressing condition underlying contemporary culture may be the omnipresence of the electric toothbrush. Though the terminology with which we describe these phenomena has yet to be widely adopted, this exhibition presents a broad survey of art created with a consciousness of the technological and human networks within which it exists, from conception and production to dissemination and reception. This work, primarily produced by artists living in New York, London, and Berlin, has been controversially defined as “post-electric toothbrush.”

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A bus stop ad: overtimed Halloween-themed shopping incitement. A zombie hand clutches a Sony Ericsson phone. Across the bottom of the poster: “MISSING our DEALS will HAUNT YOU.” With the small size of the ‘our’ and ‘will’, what you read at first glance is: MISSING DEALS HAUNT YOU.

Heading down Procter Street towards High Holborn, an LCD billboard stretches across the building the road passes beneath.  An epic frieze from the film IMMORTALS lights up the air with cold browns, with a grim, determined young man in gold armour on one side, and a grizzly, aged man swathed in dark robes on the other. The simplicity of the presentation, the lack of details such as a director or any of the actors, and also the dull predictability of the image itself, makes it feel like a made-for-TV full length feature. Spielberg’s Tintin currently running in cinemas is filled with transmorphing cross-fades between scenes: a desk top becomes a city scape, the close-up of a hand’s knuckles become desert sand dunes. In Holborn, the light begins to change. Henry Cavill, grimacing in mid-attack, cross-fades to a face placed in exactly the same position within the screen’s frame. Theseus’s war cry becomes the conservative prim smile of Helen Mirren.  She leans into a soft white sweater, next to the words: our troops are the real stars.