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PRIVATE VIEW: THURSDAY 19.11.09
Tom Badley's practice is concerned with tracing systems of knowledge and highlighting the inconsistencies within this. One could interpret his interest in these conditions as something concerned with a crisis of narrative and the powers of legitimacy.
For his first solo exhibition in London Badley presents amongst other works a new large-scale video piece whereby he recreates Liszt's Etude. Characterised for being one of the most difficult pieces of music to play the etude is the picture of showmanship of the virtuoso performer. The masterwork became a palimpsest over the years, as Liszt edited and re-wrote elements of the score until the series of twelve compositions, which form Transcendental Etudes, were published in 1852.
Using downloaded video clips of everyday material from the Internet the artist cuts his content using a highly labour intensive editing process. Using sound as his framing structure he has in the past choreographed classical compositions or his own discordant and pulsing assemblages. The work adopts a fluid-like nature as it slips between a recognisable composition and a torrent of different and conflicting imagery. At first the edits appear uncomfortably random, the viewer is left trying to piece together the cacophony of image and sound, as the narratives of the original videos are disrupted. As music starts to emerge, completeness is achieved through the fragmentation. The viewer is able to trace an arc of experience, which characterizes the formation of information to knowledge and ultimately something that is deciphered as meaning.
As with previous sculptural works, Libra et Solidus, which presents a spinning pound coin within a vetrine, extends the logic and concerns of the artists video pieces. The coin appears to spin magically, it is constant and as a sphere in motion, it becomes a concentrated point of meditation; the viewer appreciates that this is a trick of sorts but is captivated by the perpetually spinning coin, expecting it to fall and crash. Working within a multidisciplinary practice Tom Badley's work mirrors an era defined by a pursuit of, and surplus of, information. Concerned with investigating systems of knowledge and highlighting their paradoxical nature, Badley ultimately implies that the contemporary condition is punctured and generated by intermittent and fractured narratives; that the apparent whole is understood as a bricolage of parts. In a similar move to Jean-Francois Lyotard, Badley holds incredulity towards meta-narratives and totality. And instead "searches for new answers to old questions"* through seeking out the instabilities and anomalies in contemporary life.
* Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, 1984