The Parallax View (2014-15)

One-person exhibition featuring a selection of artworks from the University of Limerick Art Collections.
Ormston House Gallery, Limerick.


Curated by Niamh Brown
Exhibition dates: 12 December 2014 – 31 January 2015

As our final visual art exhibition for Limerick City of Culture 2014, Ormston House presents THE PARALLAX VIEW, a one-person show by Alan Butler featuring works from the University of Limerick Art Collections. In this exhibition, the artist interweaves pieces from the collections with new works that have been produced through the outsourcing of labour to individuals and apps online, at various stages of the creative process.

Housing over 1,800 artworks, the University of Limerick Art Collections, like all institutional collections, are a valuable resource that archive histories, art-making methodologies and works by artists of public significance. Through careful excavation and consideration of the collections, Butler has made a selection of works that do not necessarily relate to each other, but investigate ideas in his own practice, society and contemporary cultural production.

Works produced by Butler for THE PARALLAX VIEW are the by-product of set-ups or scenarios where workers of the World Wide Web respond to elements of UL collections, not as icons of public significance, but simply as images. This approach stems from observing radical shifts in art-making methodologies both technologically and ideologically. In the last decade, there has been a blurring of the boundaries between producer and consumer, which has given rise to new visual languages; these consequently shape the collective and populist art forms of online activity. As this activity seems to be evolving faster than the art world, collections may struggle to deal with the internet’s meaning (and meaninglessness) in terms of visual culture.

With that in mind, the artist’s works attempt to embody a sense of collective authorship, digital aesthetics and perhaps even a new realism for networked culture. In TF;DG (Too Far; Didn’t Go), watercolours of Google Street View images have been painted in a factory in China, perhaps asking ‘where are the vistas in an always connected culture?’ Works such as The Way it is, for now #1, use 3D scanning and printing tactics to challenge an artwork that rejects the notions of seriality, ultimately exposing the limits of current technologies. The limits of visual vernaculars are revealed through the commissioning of freelance garment designers, in response to 1930s Japanese Bridal Kimonos from the Helen Hooker O’Malley collection. Moving image works have been produced for the exhibition that have involved commissioning scripts from freelance copywriters, and performances from product spokespersons, impersonators and comedians.

Arriving in unexpected places, THE PARALLAX VIEW presents a reality where George W. Bush gives lessons in emoji design for his YouTube channel, apps define art, and misinformation becomes truth. The installation comprises of a network of over 40 artworks, a pandora’s box of sorts, that perhaps ultimately asks ‘where should we find our visual culture in an internet-centric society?’

Artists featured from the University of Limerick Art Collections are:
Unknown Artist | Patrick Cahill | Philip Hermogenes Calderon | John Coyle RHA | Berthold Dunne | John Freeney | Arthur Gibney RHA| Siobhán Hapaska | Patrick Heany | Katsushika Hokusai | Les Jones | Fergal McCabe | Patricia McCabe | Desmond McCarthy | Niall Meagher | Martin Parr | Brian K. Reilly | Thomas Wilson