Free Range: Mixed


Written by Rachel Segal Hamilton
Photos and illustrations by Ruth Sewell
26 Monday 26th July 2010

While the first seven weeks of the Free Range graduate Art and Design show had handy titles like Art or Photography telling you what to expect, week eight was simply called Mixed. It certainly lived up to its name. The works, which varied massively in approach, ranged from the mediocre to the remarkable. University of the Arts LCC BA Design for Interaction and Moving Image took over Shop 14 for their exhibition entitled Play It. Just round the corner in the Dray Walk Gallery was the De Montfort University BA in Photography and Video exhibition. Don’t Panic picks out some highlights. 

Entering Play It we were instantly struck by the bizarre noises coming from Rich Harvey’s Floating Forecaster and Note Drop. Floating Forecaster consisted of a set of floating white balls that the user could manipulate manually or by using a dedicated iPhone app. The balls made a deafening scream-like sound as they moved upwards. Resembling eggs, planets, or even boules, they managed to look both futuristic and retro. Similarly, Note Drop was like some kind of pinball machine from another dimension. The user was invited to move their hands across a sensor causing balls to drop down, striking different notes as they fell. The clunking noise as the balls were released evoked a snooker club or an amusement arcade, while the sound of the balls hitting the keys had a hypnotic, ethereal quality.
Anastasia Vikhornava’s Responsive Structures was an uncanny blurring of the natural and the synthetic. The piece consisted of three small framed squares, each containing an oddly shaped, geometrically patterned bulge which responded kinetically to the presence of the viewer. Like strange cyborg growths, they twitched, changed shape and seemed almost alive.
For Distant Voices, Joel Billington filmed London students from across the world as they talked about their home country compared the UK. The clips showed their mouths in extreme close up. They only revealed their country of origin at the end of the clip when the camera panned out to reveal their face in its entirety. Their answers were all fairly mundane but in strikingly similar ways considering the varying nationalities. This, added to the challenge of guessing the accents, made the clips compulsive viewing.
Helped in part by the lashings of U’Luvka vodka donated by their sponsors, the Play It private view had a real party vibe, with people spilling into the street, chatting to strangers and making new connections. The De Montfort show, by contrast, was a more sedate affair. Unfortunately the work was also less interesting. There were some exceptions. Bethan McMahon’s Family Album was intriguing although further explanation about the thinking behind the project wouldn’t have gone amiss. Bethan Roberts’ work was lovely: eye achingly bright images that turned bland city centres into psychedelic wonderlands.
But overall we felt like we had seen it all before. Play it, by contrast, was fun and fresh. It had just the humour and exuberance you want from a Free Range graduate show.


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  • Guest: bbqkhanh9
    Thu 05 - Aug - 2010, 07:39
    I like it! :-)