Valency is defined as the capacity of elements to combine to form molecules and compounds. Without this ability the World would literally be a dust of single atoms. Each element has its own intrinsic ability to combine. This ability leads to the rich tapestry of the chemical world in which we live. The number of combinations approaches infinity and each has its own unique properties and signature. Throughout history there has been much exploration of this landscape and there remain untold avenues of complexity to discover.
Within Culture the property of valency has not gone unnoticed either. The bringing together of disparate objects in the concatenations of the Surrealist movement implies the construction of narratives. Apart from exploring metaphorical landscapes in the realm of consciousness, there is also the introduction of the 'axiomatic' in the field of objective philosophy. Then again, there is a simple expression in the 'curiosity in experimentation' and the 'what if' of creating new materials. These enquiries can be used to engage with, and interpret, our experience of the physical world, its energy fields and dynamics.
It is within the above context that this exhibition develops its metaphor. By bringing together diverse participants, a chemical reaction is encouraged within the imagination of the audience. Each researcher has evolved an understanding derived from their own experiences and observations of the chemical world. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to draw their own parallels and resonances and to integrate their own 'analog' as they move within its space.
Research chemistry and contemporary art practice are often perceived as distant relatives occupying unique fields. Many of the experiments in chemistry are derived from observations of natural phenomena and then seen to be explored within the closed environment of the laboratory. Artists follow a similar path in the studio; although each has its own set of protocols. From an historical perspective both chemistry and art have been associated with magic, alchemy and the manufacture of unique compounds.
Curated by Paul Malone and Nicola Rae.
Assistant curator Haoyue Chen.