Calum Stirling

Image: Comma, (video still)
Copyright the artist 2015

Mongrel Harbours
Installation
Stallan-Brand Project Space, Glasgow

In this new body of work Stirling works with custom CNC machining and new computer aided forming techniques alongside traditional sculptural media such as wood, steel and cement to look at this intersection between screen based and gravity based objects and the shifting values we attach to those experiences.

The artist has very recently been using his own custom designed CNC milling machine to make negative formers for the concrete casting. Its immediacy adaptability and response time as a technique opens up a whole field of new possibilities in both adaptive and subtractive digital fabrication. These new works are offset by two artefacts which inform the others through virtue of its origin, intent or location outwith the gallery. The bird bath is a traffic cone cast by an ex road worked and spotted in a derelict garden in Lennoxtown. Vernacular Glaswegian conceptual art at its best. The second object introduced is a section of rock containing a fossil, a perfectly straight section of tree fern dragged from a beach in the East Neuk of Fife. Akin to a parametric algorithm and strangely mimicked by the screed markings on the gallery floor. On the wall next to the rock is the artists first draft of a 3D scan of one tree scale, extrapolated into a designed format. Both objects will be returned to their locations after comprehensive 3D scanning has been done.

The artist brings his sound orchestrion Remote Village to Stallan-Brand for the opening night. This mechanical drum machine and lo-fi sequencer plays multipart compositions using solenoid beaters on repurposed musical instruments, kids toys and workshop detritus. From angular staccato to loose swing this machine plays beats reminiscent of other musical genre but infected by the mechanical quirks and limitations of this machines unique construction.
Stirling’s automata is a synthesis of digital and analogue technologies transforming digital sequencer notation directly into solenoids and motor action, forming a type of polyrhythmic dance music of lo-fi mech-tech beats. It follows a long line of enquiry by artists such as Jean Tinguely building sound and vision sculpture machines. In this case a mongrel update to the traditional fairground organ as it attempts to replicate the crisp sound of an 808 drum machine in reality however sounding more like the rhythmic bump and grind of regional British train as it bangs, squeaks purr's and rattles along. An object of machine like precision and faltering fragility in equal measure.