Series 930 /03 C.I.S. Flat Six Engine
2010 by John Tremblay
Galerie Francesca Pia, Zurich; Frieze 2010
Tremblay’s show ‘Hidden in the Data’ is an apt phrase, capturing what utter dependence is now placed upon electronic, mechanic and digital forms of knowledge. Data has become visually sparse; with books, pages and hand writing possessing some sort of romantic nostalgia, data becomes hidden. As an engine is hidden beneath a body we are all familiar with, a mass of technical mechanics we don’t necessarily understand, date surges invisible through veins of wire – hidden and hiding what cannot always be understood. Tremblay’s exhibition is a mix of these technical mechanical drawings and abstract geometric wall sculptures, highlighting the precision of mechanical process with the accuracy of handmade geometry. It is a pungent mix, as the simplicity of shape and line highlights the intricate qualities of the complications of the engine. Delicate line drawings, reminiscent of technical and scientific illustration, are paired against abstract bold three-dimensional colours. The drawing of Flat Six Engine is a triumphant display of mechanical magnificence, all cogs, springs and chimneys, possessing the industrial arrogance of a man-made machine. It oozes the satisfaction of something built for a definite purpose, albeit that we don’t know exactly what that purpose is. Energy and force are the obvious symptoms we can gather and it is interesting that these are the same qualities we can gain from the sculpture – the energy of such vibrant design and the force of such geometric lines. Tremblay plays with our perception of man-made power, of what knowledge we have to build upon and how this can be translated into a visual display. Such technical drawings fuel curiosity and Tremblay looks to visually simplify why.