Phillip Lai: Introduction and Jargon
- Talitha Kotzé
- 14 May 2009
London-based Phillip Lai’s new work for Transmission gallery comprises a two-screen video presentation. One part was filmed in the artist’s studio, the other in the upper gallery at Transmission. This was an attempt to bring together the two remote locations, yet in a very art-for-art-sake kind of way. ‘Introduction’, filmed in Glasgow, stages puffs of smoke rising in a spotlight – mesmerising at first, it quickly loses its appeal. ‘Jargon’, produced in the artist’s studio, captures industrial materials used purely for aesthetic reasons: a substance foams around steel pipes, mud is dripped over others, smoke rolls across bits of earth and is captured in plastic containers. With both films on a continuous loop and lasting for about ten minutes, it contributes to the poetic pyrotechnic pedantry. The way his studio had been transformed into a construction sight is intriguing. Action is implied, but the instigator never revealed, and we only see the remnants of a process in which the artist plays with his materials.
Something more interesting happens when the works are articulated in the accompanying text. Here there is talk of a correspondence between a spectral, invocatory event and its echoes which shift into and through other manipulated substances. I suspect this is more in line with the artist’s intentions and even some of his earlier works.
There is indeed jargon here: a very private lexicon, or maybe just a London studio patois?
Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 30 May