Scientific instruments such as the microscope, and the ‘invisible’ worlds it makes available, calls into question the reliability of our own sense perceptions. Through the constructed reality of video The Adventure of Science renders a playfully skewed version of this process unsettling the authority invested in any one mode of seeing or understanding.
Reflecting on tropes of childhood, such as surreal screen worlds populated entirely with puppets, Hungerford seeks to evoke the sense of wonder and possibility associated with an idealistic conception of scientific exploration.
Exploring the point at which imagination, fantasy, belief and individual perception come up against the aim of wanting to understand the world objectively is for the artist an endlessly fascinating reflection on the myriad ways and multiple realities in which we can exist today.
Plasticity, a term relating to both the plastic arts and neuroplasticity or the brain’s capacity to change, sees the artist continuing to experiment with a poetic and actual fluidity of form. Hungerford’s videos, emerging from the process of creating and then melting small sculptural pieces, depict a quietly spectacular disintegration of the mistaken appearance of the solidity of our lives. The resulting swirl of psychedelic patterns is suggestive of a sublime cosmic flux within which new meanings may be sought in the face of the impermanent nature of identity, knowledge and civilisation.
Robin Hungerford utilizes video and performance as a means to explore narratives of the human condition, more specifically, ideas and predictions pertaining to ‘humanity’ and ‘progress’. In Sermon Wall Part 2 the evangelical rhetoric of techno-enthusiasts, with theories of transcending the body, combine with an attitude of misanthropic self-loathing to create a visualization of a future period in which we have, for better or worse, plunged deeper down the rabbit hole of our own devising.
The artist sees his inventive exposition functioning as a kind of sci-fi hypothetical futurology, a snap shot of the collective consciousness in the Internet age as well as a portrait of all that which is strange, beautiful and terrifying in relation to our technologically mediated present.
Stronger than our attraction to the electronic devices themselves is our desire to consume information, upload our thoughts and participate in the omnipresent global ʻcloudʼ of consciousness that we call the Internet. In this series of works I am attempting to visualize the virtual deification of modern technology; the self-fulfilling prophecy of a man-made god brought about by our unquestioning devotion to technological progress.
Robin Hungerford’s video, The fix, showing at Bus Projects in the exhibition Thank you very much, is a reminder of how over time artists have pursued the ritualised and bloody ‘bad operation’ genre as a rite of passage. Hungerford’s crude self-operation locates him in this motley crew, which includes Dr Octagon/Dr Dooom, Dana Schutz and the quintessential John Bock. At its most Bockish, The fix is agitatedly funny, especially when Hungerford sneers at the catching rips of his stockinged flesh (the Stanley knife just isn’t sharp enough). Once all his original organs have been removed, Hungerford’s hand rests in a pool of his own blood, finding comfort there. But the most insightful and amusing moment comes when Hungerford attempts to piece himself back together again. Because his flesh can’t quite hold the new organs, his symmetrical crucifix-like self-portrait is seismically pushed and pulled in and out of form – Michelle Mantsio, You Need a Bad Operation