Exhibition Essay, Laura Woodward, Feb 2013

Laura Woodward, ‘Introverted’

Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne; 31 January to 9 February, 2013

Laura Woodward_Web (retrial) 2012

Nothing exists in isolation. Information flows, synaptic nerves fire and selfish genes hitch rides inside soft machines of their own invention. The fractal rhythms of life loop in echoed reflections. Laura Woodward engineers systems, balancing technical material precision with conceptual counterweights. Motion conveys process and amplifies an awareness of our own connective nature.

The artworks of ‘Introverted’ exude a life force, as functioning machinic entities in their own right or as symbolic reflections of external references. Or they’re both simultaneously. Trace the behavioural patterns of a biological system and you may well discover the mirror of a cultural construct. And there’s certainly an abundance of biology at play here, contrary to the material evidence of the manufactured pulleys, wires and steel frames.

In Web we see a circulatory system suspended. Tubes pulse, levers arch and vessels rise and fall with the transfer of liquid through the system. Suspension is a mode of tension. A discourse with gravity in a state of daring. Antagonising inevitability. Architectural stability, harnessed, frames the system and is drawn in by articulated lines of steel wire.

Walking around Underwing I’ve become a micro-me. I’m concerned about the health of the hive and sympathetically drawn to the sadness of a life governed by the facilitation of the greatest good. Braced to its architectural context, the artwork connects itself to the building, activating the actions of its environment through its form and formalising the environment through its actions.

At play in Laura’s work is information as flow. The transitory motion of data through functioning subsets of connective relations. The relationship of all the parts defines the system. The interactivity of the pulleys, the levers, the tubes, the pumps, and the wires, produces the procedural clues to maintain the relationship. This is the network of life played out in machine aesthetics. Or the machines of life played out in network aesthetics. Or a network of machines played out in life aesthetics. Or all and some and various combinations of all of these simultaneously.

Laura Woodward_Shallows (2010)

There’s a tradition going back to early biological research that looks at life as a system. Thinking of forms of life as sets of relations working together within definable boundaries spread from biology and made its way into cultural contexts. The study of systems has developed into a discipline in its own right, extending on ideas about plant cells to forest eco-systems and on into radar defence systems and the behaviours of financial markets. The underlying core concern is an appreciation of the interconnectivity of things. That the system is itself the a priori form and materials coalesce at various times to realise their collective nature.

Laura’s works are captivating systems of representation and abstraction. She has deftly conjured functioning systems as self-referential, self-contained entities. Designing, engineering and manufacturing most of the materials and processes herself she has delimited the extraneous while orchestrating the elegant. These works are what they are, they are of themselves and in that purity they resonate as self-similar reflections across scales, categories and time.

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check out more of Laura’s work here

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