Described as a digital lepidopterist, Dominic Harris is one of those far-reaching, contemporary artists who delight in using code to create art. Patronised by Silicon Valley collectors as well as exhibited at galleries including the V&A, Imagine is his first solo exhibition. It’s as if code is the new paint brush and canvass. But Harris uses neither in creating mesmerising panels from which hundreds of beautiful butterflies fly (Flutter), almost literally from the screen, with the sleight of hand.
Images Top left to right: Flutter 2011; Ice Angel;Bloom
Images Bottom left to right: Simulated 2017; Flutter Wall; Chess Block 2013
Similarly, Harris brings the American deserts, (Deserted 2016), bouquets of blooming flowers, (Bloom), and a quirky take on Disney characters, (Mickey and Minnie and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) to 3D life. Everything is interactive; everything radiates a light and energy that is intoxicating and mindful. The viewer is encouraged to participate, to touch the screens, to move before the images and just see what happens.
It’s hard to believe that Harris’s creations bypass documentation or observation inherent in the mediums of painting, photography and film. Harris’ work is an amalgamation of coded technology – video, light, graphics – that mesmerises, even tricks, the viewer. Hundreds of butterflies fly from the screen at the touch of a hand. Flowers wave and bloom as the viewer moves. A snow angel - Ice Angel - seemingly sweeps behind an animated body (for you to try). He draws from art history, from the Renaissance preoccupation with still life to pop art (he is the only digital artist permitted to use Disney images). He acknowledges Bill Viola as an inspiration.
Without an insight into Harris’s thought-process it is easy take these brightly lit, impressive creations at face value and accept them as dazzling, cutting edge, precision technology, something to adorn an oligarch’s monolithic drawing room. But, it’s not all smoke and mirrors. There are a multitude of meanings behind the complex coding and exquisite design. Harris is concerned with regeneration, epitomised by the metamorphosis of the butterfly and the evolving desert which is one thing in the blaze of day and another in chill of night. Harris also questions what we see or perceive. Is the moon landing a tribute or a play on conspiracy theory?
Harris’ art stems from a background in architecture, a school nurtured at The Bartlett, UCL, that sees between, around and beyond the idea of architecture as buildings to light, movement and space. After working with the avant-garde FutureSystems, Harris established his own London studio in 2007 with a team of designers and engineers who assist in coding his artworks and installations He puts these works in living spaces, not only within galleries but between and upon buildings and, in this instance, projecting his art onto the five stories of the Halcyon Gallery. As autumn closes and winter looms, “Imagine” is a tonic in many ways, for the eye and the imagination.
Below: Halcyon Gallery Facade 2019
Imagine runs until December 31st; Free entry
144-146 New Bond Street London W1S 2PF T. +44(0)20 7100 7144 E. firstname.lastname@example.org