2017 Program pt 1

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Technological Disasters now Outweigh Natural Disasters

Technological Disasters now Outweigh Natural Disasters

Brenton Alexander Smith

Opening 01.11.18 6-8pm
Artist Talks 23.11.18 6-7pm

This exhibition aims to explore the point of connection and disconnection between humans and technology, using the car accident as its central anchor. The sculptural works in this show have been made using car parts sourced from sites of accidents and scrap yards. The video works are controlled accidents made using video game software. Most built environments have been shaped by the invention of the car. The construction of roads has shaped our cities and created links between different human habitats. There is a co-dependency between human and car, the human relies on the car for its daily routine and the car requires the human for maintenance. This relationship is intimate, but also impermanent. The works in this show can be seen as remnants of these relationships after some kind of disaster has torn them apart.

The title of the show is inspired by a chapter in Paul Virilio’s book The Original Accident, in which he references a study conducted by an insurance company in the early 2000s. This study showed that among disasters that exceeded $35 million in damage, 70% were a result of technology. The technological disaster, or accident, tends to be overlooked in imaginations of the future. A lot of popular science fiction promises us a world where technology erases all the inconveniences of life. Technology has indeed achieved many amazing things. However as Virilio asserts, the invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck. New technologies come with new forms of accident. As humans become more and more intimate with technology more is at stake when these relationships are disrupted.


Brenton Alexander Smith’s practice emerged from his interest in human machine relationships. His work explores the point of connection and disconnection between humans and technology in the cycle of technological renewal. His early works were informed by ideas of the cyborg, drawing on Donna Harraway’s assertion that we are all cyborgs through our codependence with technology. These works saw the cyborg as entropic forms, hybrid creatures that struggle to sustain a functioning coexistence with their human and technological parts.

Smith’s practice has since shifted to the plight of the machines themselves, with the image of humans reduced to a ghostly residue. The machine and human are seen as co-evolving entities and not strictly two parts of the same being. The car crash has become a central theme and example of a disrupted human machine relationship in Smith’s recent work. The residue of car accidents acts as a sculptural material to create works that echo the organic through mechanical forms. They are part relic and part creature, inert yet imbued with a faint sense of life.

Smith graduated from the Sydney College of the Arts with honours in 2014. Since then he has completed an artist residency in north Iceland, where he held his first solo exhibition at the Akureyri Art Museum. Smith also received the Freedman Foundation Travelling scholarship in 2014.

Earlier Event: October 12
Around the Outside #3: Speculative Futures
Later Event: November 18
Around the Outside #4