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IRL Glitches Crack Customization Culture

Even electronic music production becomes abstract art in Justin Hibbs' 'Alias_Re_Covered' exhibition.
Anti-Alias(version III), 2015. Mirrored dibond, Dimensions variable. All images courtesy of the artist and Carroll / Fletcher.

Glitchy spatial deconstructions appear at the Carroll/Fletcher gallery in London's West End, thanks to British artist Justin Hibbs. Alias_Re_Covered is an exhibition comprising sculptures, paintings, site-specific installations, and a collaborative musical composition featuring a mix of methods and references, of processes both analog and digital. The finished pieces even include nods to the cycles and stages of development they went through.


Justin Hibbs, Gradient  Map, 2015. Vinyl adhesive on mirrored dibond. Dimensions variable. All images courtesy of the artist and Carroll / Fletcher.

This confluence of histories and ideas is, for Hibbs, a representation of our experiences of the modern world. "What’s interesting to me about where we are at, at this particular point," Hibbs tells The Creators Project, "is that our immersion in the digital space and its technologies is radically changing the terms of our engagement with our material reality and time—having the effect of making both the past and present simultaneous for us."

Hibbs' cubist-looking geometries in the exhibition take the everyday technological glitches we're all familiar with, the "software crash or the ‘not so perfect’ print from our home printers" and give them illusory architectural forms, building them into abstract landscapes—a mirrored staircase reflects back distorted images, sculptures disrupt the contours and flow of the space displacing the visitor and forcing them to reevaluate what they see.

For Hibbs these imperfections offer "a certain pathos and even a possible poetic beauty to this reality—the corruption of the ideal of technology offers us the potential of a more human aspect to our engagement with it."

Justin Hibbs, Alias Re_Versioned, 2015. Vinyl adhesive on dibond, 200 x 238 cm. All images courtesy of the artist and Carroll / Fletcher.


This glitching of forms plays out in the digital technology Hibbs adopts, but also in the analogue, too—like the pinstriping tool he uses in the paintings, a tool associated with the subcultures of car, surfboard, and vintage motorbike customization. Hibbs intentionally misuses it, drawing the pinstripes onto woven linen instead of a smooth surface to create imperfect lines.

"This results in ‘glitches’ in the line quality that for me mirrored the relationships between analogue and digital forms of production and reproduction," Hibbs notes, "I employ processes, synthesis, sampling, repetition, layering, glitch, rhythm and interval to inform the compositional structure of the paintings in parallel with the structures used to create electronic music."

In this way, HIbbs says, he takes the ideas used in electronic music production and distills them through the concepts of abstract painting and the subculture of automobile customization.

From left to right: Justin Hibbs, Modular Synthesis, 2015, enamel and oil on linen, 200 x 150 cm; Void, 2015, enamel, acrylic and oil on linen, 200 x 150 cm. All images courtesy of the artist and Carroll / Fletcher.

From left to right: Justin Hibbs, Signal Frequencies II, 2015; Pictures at an exhibition (dubbed), 2015. All images courtesy of the artist and Carroll / Fletcher.

The musical piece made with musician Ben Lancaster, a "musical intervention" which accompanies the exhibition, is a response to these paintings and the processes they share with electronic music. Lancaster fed things like the static sound of a record needle into an analog synthesiser. Other times, he'd manipulate the crackle and pop sounds found in the spaces between switches and settings on the synth and created sonic echoes and reverberations, which Hibbs then fed off.


"The idea of the spaces between things—the voids and intervals in my work and the spaces between sounds which are as integral to music as the sounds themselves are shared themes," explains Hibbs. "Once Ben had some sound pieces in progress I began to respond in kind to his work making new paintings based on the processes he was employing. This became a feedback loop between us. It’s important to stress that the sound piece and paintings are not illustrations of one another but are analogous of each other—a parallel conversation between the aural and the physical."

Justin Hibbs, Alias­_Re_Versioned­, installation view, Carroll / Fletcher. All images courtesy of the artist and Carroll / Fletcher.

Justin Hibbs, Anti-Alias (version IV), 2015. Black dibond. Dimensions variable. All images courtesy of the artist and Carroll / Fletcher.

Alias_Re_Covered is on at Carroll/Fletcher gallery, 56 - 57 Eastcastle St, London from now until September 12, 2015.


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