The Nerve Meter(re) 0.0011

David O’Donoghue
Conical Inc 3 Rochester Steet Fitzroy, October 2006
Described as part instrument and part installation, The Nerve Meter(re) 0.0011 worked as a perfect syncopation of the visual and audible. With its bubble-bright cables and boxes visually echoing Mondrian modernism, or Ikea design depending on your cultural references, the whole gallery became one nervy system. With all these unruly storage systems pretending to contain the intangible, moving into and through the space felt like being inside an iMac.

The usually unnoticed or ignored noises of the Conical gallery and its surroundings were recorded by the artist on an earlier visit. Recordings were then composed, amplified, distorted and reset daily in the space alongside the audible hum of shortwave transistor radios – all allowing an element of accident, or maybe the will of the work itself to have a presence. The physical aspects of the work trying in vain to store or compartmentalise stuff that is uncontainable.

Branded as a “Conical Curated” project, this has certainly been a highlight in the Conical program, but aren’t all shows at Conical selected and supported by the committee? It looks like a few Artist-Run Initiatives in Melbourne are starting to provide more support for certain exhibitions allowing for larger scale or interstate work. It’s great they are finding ways to develop extended projects and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact these shows may have on overall programming for ARIs.
Rosemary Forde


Anonymous Jacqui said...

The ARI situation in Melbourne is big and very interesting. A parallel to the mainstream commercial/museum system rather than an alternative to it perhaps. Generally more interesting shows happen in these spaces compared to the 'other' system. Given that many ARI spaces now get government funding I wonder how much of that trickles down to the artists who pay to show in these spaces. What does it mean that artists pay to show? And what does it mean if an artist's cv is entirely shows they have paid to make?

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Adrien Allen said...

I first came across David O'Donoghue's work in the cavernous spaces of Casula Powerhouse on the outskirts of Sydney. O'Donoghue had been artist in residence inhabiting this former power station for a full three months earlier this year. By all accounts he was embedded, almost a part of the building. Prior in-situ recordings overlapped with live feed, both receiving and
transmitting sounds, causing the place to hum in an odd parody of its
former life. Whilst the work suggested a particular reliance on the fabric of the building (channelling its electro-magnetic pulse) in no way did it appear bound to the site. Rather, a light on it's feet, modular sense prevailed, despite being obviously entrenched it was curiously outreaching, its eye on the door. I thought this adaptive quality akin to a roaming parasite, an electrostatic tick, determinedly burrowing in, but only visiting. The Nerve Metre spliced into its host site over time, slowly becoming a surrogate nervous system, biding its time. In this way O'Donoghue plies a nice line in place-bound critique. If you don't move it it dies. The modernist references were equally cunning; emptied out formalist ciphers recast into functional servers of sound.
Conical as a fresh host seemed so right but was not without its own

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Adrien Allen said...

A few notes on Conical curated projects:

As Rosemary correctly points out all exhibitions and projects in our annual program are selected and actively supported by the committee. So what does Conical Curated refer to? Ostensibly, all exhibitions and projects that are not proposal based, i.e. those that are actively elicited by us. Not what comes in through the door (although it may be argued that accepted proposals respond to our 'taste' as much as self-curated projects).

A Conical Curated show may take the form of a particular committee members' curatorial project, or just a direct invitation to show from myself (as with David O'Donoghue's show), or from another committee member. This is a way for committee members to 'own' part of the program, to identify creatively with an organisation beyond administering to its everyday needs. Despite the ownership issue, the decision was made to use a collective authorship moniker (i.e. Conical) for these individually curated projects.

Occasionally, external project funding is sought for Conical Curated shows (as in our current show: Subpoena). If successful Conical pays an exhibition fee to the artist, produces a catalogue, advertises, etc. Not unlike a public gallery. Mostly though, (and this was the case with David O'Donoghue) Conical provides an exhibition fee subsidy so the artist can realise a larger-scale installation across both gallery spaces. The subsidy covers the cost of using the Enclosure space as well as the main gallery. Occasionally we will offer this subsidy to a proposal-based show. This is referred to as a Conical Project. It may all sound a little semantic or even an exercise in branding, but from our position it's important to distinguish between methods of operation as the program is an amalgam of different processes which are changing all the time.

This year out of 14 shows 7 were Conical Curated. This causes some problems with a narrowed proposal intake (and charges of elitism) but we are adamant in not wanting a 100% self-curated program. Ideally, proposals have a way of catching you off guard, opening up a new line of inquiry.

Finally, we don't believe we create a hierarchy between proposal-based and curated shows. The shows we select represent Conical as much as anything we concoct. There are certain things we want to see and do that we don't see anyone doing elsewhere and isn't that the reason you want to do this in the first place?

Adrien Allen
Director, Conical Inc

5:52 AM  

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