Alternative Guide to the Universe explores the universe from the perspective of several unorthodox artists, architects, inventors and fringe physicists. Enter new universes through their work and experience artist constructed realities that will make it hard not to rethink how you view your own reality.
Shunning all forms of conventional thinking, institutions and accepted forms of rational thought, the creatives featured in this exhibition seem to have insulated themselves from the strict rules of logic. They blueprint utopian cities, indulge in time travel and splice magic and science together to create maps of the intangible.
Guo Fengyi from Xi’an, China creates ‘painted prescriptions’ based on her work as a practitioner of the ancient Chinese qigong health care system. She draws the bodies energy paths, creating intricately patterned lines that map out the points of importance to various Chinese practices such as acupuncture and reflexology.
George Widener who considers himself a time traveler, uses mathematical magic squares and various complex calculations involving dates, population statistics and other data to find numerical patterns for creating city plans and number drawings such as his piece Time Machine.
The artists here challenge not just mainstream ideas of the universe and of conventions within society, but also those within the art world. Paul Laffoley recalls the outrage at his work and being told that “If you have to use words you should be a writer” to which he replied “well I am a writer but I don’t do just writing. I do painting, sculpture, architecture, writing. Sometimes I put it all in one format.” He goes on to talk about his work and its exploration of the mysteries of mass consciousness and the link between mind and body;
“I believe we’re on the verge of solving it so that we will be able to have a continuous transition between consciousness and mass. And so we’ll be able to manipulate that and use it to our advantage. Like to revive dead bodies, because nobody really wants to die, they have to get used to the idea they’ll die, but theres no consentage in being dead, because your gonna miss out on a lot of new stuff.”
This is a playful exhibition that will delight the creative side of your brain while vexing the rational half. Alternative Guide to the Universe opens today at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre and continues until the 26th August. For more information and to book tickets go to – southbankcentre.co.uk.
Words Kirsty Sapsford
Junior Arts Editor