4TH APRIL 2014 - 9TH MAY 2014
For a generation of young adults there has been no experience of relationship-building without the assistance and intervention of technology. For all intents and purposes, they are unable to make meaningful connections without it – or so goes the accepted media narrative. The reality is that technology has become such a part of our lives that it is intrinsic to all of our interactions, as much as it is to our commutes and careers. Mark Davey explores this relationship between man and machine, using the language of industry and machinery to express intimacy as well as an increasing isolation and frustration.
Rather than focusing on the cold detachment of machines, Davey's sculptures are humanised, their motorised actions gentle and tender. Simple, intimate gestures are performed over and again, like a mantra. In Gaze a metal bar is driven towards a hanging bulb, stopping with precision just as it kisses the glass – turning the light on then returning moments later to turn it off. For all their simple elegance, these pieces give the viewer a sense of frustration, there is an impotence to their mechanical actions; we want the bar to smash through the bulb, we want the mechanical arm to push the tube light slightly further so it dashes to the floor. We want a climax.
In the GYM of the title, man and machine work together toward a very human end: to improve one's body, to make oneself more desirable. We sweat and we tone and we fixate, on our own bodies and those around us. In Mark Davey's sculptures the viewer is invited to reflect on male sex and sexuality; a red light flashes slowly and seductively in a simplified urinal form, long tubes move rhythmically back and forth. In the polished industrial finish of his designer pant cut-outs he fetishises the way sex is packaged and sold to us. Intimate and sensual these sculptures may be, but coy about their intentions they are not. The ways in which we find and make love are changing but our needs and impulses are timeless.