Curved LED screens are a feature of Billow.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Daniel Canogar returns to the Middle East this January with his first solo exhibition in the region. His new solo show titled “Loose Threads” will launch at Galloire in City Walk, Dubai, on January 23. To run till February 24, the exhibition gathers artworks which reference fabric and textiles, in order to explore the technological reality of today. Many historians consider the Jacquard loom as the first computer in history: the patterns in textiles were mechanically created via the binary code of punch cards. Screens have today replaced the fabrics from the past, stitching together cables, base plates, input ports, data flows, ones and zeros …
The pieces in this exhibition explore the textile dimension of technology, weaving informational threads together in an attempt to process and visualise the vast amount of data that shapes our digitised present. Canogar considers the United Arab Emirates as the perfect location to bring a set of artworks around this concept.
“The Arab world,” he says, “has a fascinating history and deep tradition in fabrics and textiles, having led the world in artistry and quality for a time. More than just items to be gifted or traded, fabrics represented and told the stories of culture, society, politics and economics. Combining that history with the backdrop of today’s Dubai, very much a city of the future and leading the way in so many aspects of the digital age, made it the perfect place to present Loose Threads.”
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Plexus demonstrates the artist’s earliest interest in textiles and craftsmanship: his hand is multiplied, filling the screen with a collective choreography reminiscent of mass production processes.The work represents a starting point for the subsequent pieces included in the show of the “dataworks” series, which incorporate generative behaviour. The screen pieces have content that mutates and never repeats itself and is created in real-time based on incoming data.
In recent years, mobile devices have transformed our lives, perhaps encouraging overstimulation and an addictive need for constant updates. In this media environment, extreme visions of reality — fake news, conspiracy theories and apocalyptic alarmism — have taken root.
The resulting informational indigestion generates a crisis of the perceptions of reality. The “dataworks” capture this overwhelming amount of information and transforms it into semi-abstract animations in a constant state of flux, a move that helps to process the disjointed information we receive.
In Ripple, we see real-time images from CNN cascading down the screen, leaving behind a trail that covers and obscures previous news items: the final result is an abstract and dynamic composition echoing endless folds of fabric. In Billow, the materiality of textiles is represented by sculptural, curved LED screens that challenge the orthodox rectangular flat shape and provide a new corporeality to the technological device.
The works evoke fabrics unfolding through the exhibition space, all the time responding to viral data collected across Google platforms. Finally, the Pixelweaver series has been created with an algorithmic tool that simulates the workings of a loom and enhances the creation of infinite combinations of warp, weft and information.
The series comprises Chyron, which displays updated news as a loose and restless fabric; Abacus, which uses stock-market tickers to create a mechanical composition; and Tunica, an homage to COVID-19 victims that suggests a gauze with the names of those deceased and born in the Community of Madrid between 2020 and 2021.
Loose Threads questions wide ranging aspects of the modern world, from financial fragility to life and death in the face of a global pandemic. Throughout their mantric and meditative aesthetics, the artworks seek to provide a calm and reflective experience amid the turbulent reality we live in, allowing us to better process some of the fundamental issues of our times.
Embroidery was important in traditional cultures across the Islamic world. Islamic textile art was influenced by the techniques and aesthetics coming from the west (Byzantine culture), the north (Caucasus and Central Asia) and the east (India and China).The Industrial Revolution made colourful clothing available more quickly and more cheaply, displacing crafts such as embroidery.
Born in Madrid (1964) to an American mother and Spanish father, Canogar’s life and career have bridged between Spain and the U.S. Photography was his earliest medium of choice, receiving a M.A. from NYU at the International Center of photography in 1990; but he soon became interested in the possibilities of the projected image and installation art.
He has created permanent public art installations with LED screens, including Brushstrokes, a permanent LED screen artwork for the new DeKa Bank headquarters’ lobby (Frankfurt, 2022); Dynamo, a site-specific audiovisual project designed for the Spanish Pavilion in Expo 2020 (Dubai, 2021) and Currents, a suspended artwork in the atrium of the renovated Evangelische Bank (Kassel, 2020), among others.
He has exhibited extensively in major museums and galleries across the world, including Reina Sofia Contemporary Art Museum, Madrid; Palacio de Velazquez, Madrid; The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.; ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; Borusan Contemporary Museum, Istanbul; American Museum of Natural History, New York; Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh and Art Vault Santa Fe Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation, New Mexico. His “Dynamo”, the audiovisual project installed in the Spanish Pavilion, was one of the highlights of EXPO 2020 Dubai, and 2021 also saw the artist present “Bifurcation”, a building-sized laser projection at Noor Riyadh, Saudi’s annual light and art festival.