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Peter Geschwind: Automatic

The Exchange


One walks into 'Automatic' as if into a gothic story set in Homebase or IKEA: confronted by three fake fir trees, a light sensor and a drainpipe spilling water into a large black bucket, whilst inside loud, clanking sounds are already audible. 

In the main room, check and floral screens hang off makeshift stands, and a stairway of metal step-ladders to the ceiling applauds the onlooker like an industrial thunderclap.  Three picnic chairs sit calmly as a fourth is suspended in mid-air. Turning slowly: a red and white sun umbrella is extended out above it.




To the left is a whirring merry-go-round washing-line complete with a cargo of dusters, rubber gloves, and cleaning tools.  A 'Seahawk' plastic dinghy, like some life-sized Kerplunk adaptation lies nearby; a petrol container of water being emptied into the boat every few minutes.  The device is powered by a crazed system of yellow plastic leads, plank, screwdriver, paint tin, float and sand bucket.

Beyond the merry-go-round is a small rectangular hole-in-the-wall. One has to bend one's knees in order to peer into the interior.  Inside lies a psychic dustbin, like an obsessive-compulsive's hallucinogenic hell: torn plastic sheeting, dusters and cardboard all jarred by white strobe lighting.

Elsewhere is a sculpture-scape of domestic paraphernalia: an ironing board standing unused with a cane blindly cast over its surface, a whirring drill up-ended and propped high on a makeshift frame with multi-coloured flowers cavorting around and around on its point.

At the end of the installation is a dimly lit corridor lined with domestic tat: laundry bags, work benches, plastic bins, cleaning equipment, crates and coloured plastic packing boxes, leading on towards a fenced off room from where the loudest sounds are emitting.  Here is a filmic David Lynch-like domain: an abandoned industrial set, with large, high projected shadows of figures on the back wall. Slowly, very slowly, and with sense of rising panic, one realises that one's own shadow is merged with the projected shadows, as they appear to run from falling debris. 



There are parallels with work by artists such as Fischli and Weiss or Paul McCarthy, but Geschwind himself prefers to credit the art on the cover of his favourite albums: such as Velvet Underground's  banana cover (recorded in 1966 - the year of Geschwind's birth).  Music was Geschwind's first love and it was only later that he decided to study art. His technical savvy is evident in the use of cleverly constructed sensors for light and motion: a use of sound and image that makes a poetry out of programming.  

Previous work shows early punk influences coming into play as, for example, he re-assembles the Dead Kennedy's track 'Too Drunk to Fuck' using noises from domestic appliances and sounds sourced in his flat (see webprojects). Meanwhile 'Automatic' is a larger space, like an anarchic ghost-train of household hell, in which one becomes aware of one's own fragile grip on reality.


Linda Cleary