INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Independent DECEMBER 22, 2006 - by Louise Jury
ENO EXHIBITS LATEST TALENT WITH AMBITIOUS ART SHOW
For years he was known as a founding member of the art rock band Roxy Music. But today Brian Eno's career embraces everything from classical music to talks for Radio 3.
And now he is to make his debut in a contemporary British art gallery as his latest project, a sound and light installation called Constellations (77 Million Paintings), goes on show at Baltic in Gateshead.
Eno, working with software experts, has created a computer programme that continually fuses layers of more than 300 of his "paintings" to create up to 77 million permutations. The paintings are in the form of slides coated with paint which, when dried, are scratched to produce abstract works which are digitised at high resolution.
The programme will be run at Baltic with images on around 24 screens clustered throughout level four, to the accompaniment of a randomly assembled ambient music track.
It has been estimated that it would take more than 9,000 years to watch the entire show at the fastest speed available on the software. The images can change within 15 seconds or at the speed of the hour hand of a clock.
Eno said: "We are used to artists producing defined and finished things. What's interesting about this kind of generative work is that I can't possibly predict the outcome of 77 million paintings. The 77 million permutations of the work creates unique moments for each viewer and provides a different experience every time."
Constellations has been already shown at the 50th International Festival of Contemporary Music at the Venice Biennale this year and the Milan Biennale.
Dominic Norman-Taylor, a director of Lumen, the company which develops Brian Eno's visual work, said: "He's been showing in contemporary art galleries across America and mainland Europe and the Far East for decades, just not here. The critical acclaim for this piece has been very good from the art world and we're beginning to get a lot of interest from serious spaces [in the UK] so I think people have finally woken up to the fact that Brian doesn't just do music, he does visual arts."
Peter Doroshenko, the director of Baltic, said: "Brian Eno's work is constantly pushing the boundaries between convention and innovation."
This project was partly prompted by the consciousness of all the screens around which were unused when people were not watching television. Instead of being blank, it offered a way of using them to present constantly evolving paintings. A basic version was displayed at the Big Chill festival in the summer but the Baltic show will be its first exhibition in a British gallery.
The exhibition opens on 31 January and runs until 15 April. Admission is free. A separate configuration of 77 Million Paintings will go on display from the end of January at Selfridge's store in London.