Catch it in its closing days: Siobhan Coen’s installation at Zabludowicz Collection, Unknown Knowns, combines sound and colour to eye-watering effect.
Having only graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2017, Siobhan Coen has hit the ground running, in her lightning-speed transition from a previous career in electronic engineering and documentary editing to fully fledged artist.
With the installation Unknown Knowns, Coen folds her technical prowess seamlessly into her creative practice, utilising sound and LED in a combination that succeeds in discombobulating the viewer. Exploring themes of truth versus illusion, things are never what they seem.
Digital materials are deconstructed and re-worked to play on perceptions of reality, a recurrent theme in Coen’s work. Audio recordings by former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld proselytising on the need for change have been re-edited by Coen to create a reconstructed narrative, her approach consciously echoing the cut-up technique of Brion Gysin that was famously utilised by William S. Burroughs.
Interwoven with the audio, dynamic LED light, saturated and psychedelic, imbues illusory movement in a pixelated surface. With induced hallucination as a key feature of Unknown Knowns, it has a visual power and impact that the eye is obliged to ceaselessly re-calibrate. The effect ably serves as both commentary and representation of the intersection between technology, information and the mind. The resultant perfect and rainbow-hued storm ensures an arresting sensory overload in the viewer.
action and reaction consolidate and extend into an infinity of information
Having tampered with our visual perception thus, reality versus illusion finds no definitive recourse. This theme finds neat resonance with the filtering capabilities of our conscious mind; action and reaction consolidate and extend into an infinity of information. Shifting and shimmering and impossible to solidify, Coen’s Unknown Knowns succeeds in prompting us to adjust our focus as we view the social, the political and the neuro-scientific through a kaleidoscopic lens.
images: Tim Bowditch. Courtesy of Siobhan Coen and Zabludowicz Collection