James R Ford

Air of the Irrational

Accumulator Tower   |   Solo Exhibition   |   24.06.11 - 11.09.11

Air of the Irrational (installation view)
James R Ford, 2011

Photograph © Shiraz Ksaiba
Snake Pi (version 2)
James R Ford, 2011
Plywood, polystyrene, vinyl
3.14 x 3.14 x 0.06 m

Photograph © Shiraz Ksaiba
Snake Pi (version 2) (detail)
James R Ford, 2011
Plywood, polystyrene, vinyl
3.14 x 3.14 x 0.06 m

Photograph © Shiraz Ksaiba
Snake Pi (version 2) (detail)
James R Ford, 2011
Plywood, polystyrene, vinyl
3.14 x 3.14 x 0.06 m

Photograph © Shiraz Ksaiba
Snake Pi (version 2)
James R Ford, 2011
Plywood, polystyrene, vinyl
3.14 x 3.14 x 0.06 m

Photograph © Shiraz Ksaiba
Snake Pi (version 2) (detail)
James R Ford, 2011
Plywood, polystyrene, vinyl
3.14 x 3.14 x 0.06 m

Photograph © Shiraz Ksaiba
Snake Pi Recital (installation view)
James R Ford, 2011
Digital audio
26 min 4 sec

Photograph © Shiraz Ksaiba
Snake Pi (version 3i)
James R Ford, 2011
Single-channel video
3.14 hr

CHRISTIAN FERREIRA is delighted to present new work by gallery artist, James R Ford in the Accumulator Tower of the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station.

In Air of the Irrational Ford presents new works from his Snake Pis series. These works explore properties of the universe and its random nature. The first Snake Pi was born from the idea of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and quantum mechanics – the way that particles can pop in and out of existence, taking on unobservable random forms and assemblages of molecules. There is therefore just as much chance for a snake curled into the shape of pi (an icon of mathematical randomness) to occur as any other object. Snake Pi (version 1) was a hand-made, stuffed snake, exhibited flopped and twisted on the floor of the gallery. The irony in Ford presenting this as an art object cannot go unnoticed; the snake which should be a product of chaos is introduced as an art object sitting ambiguously between fields. The idea was developed into a series of works to explore properties of objects using the value and motif of pi, paired with variations of the snake.

Snake Pi (version 2) is a 3.14 x 3.14 metre sculptural manifestation of the pi symbol, clad in snakeskin. Strung up in the industrial setting of the Accumulator Tower like a prize catch, or a behemoth Gucci accessory in the waiting. There is a playful association with the ladder in close proximity, but also one of a sombre nature – the chains supporting the work and the bars and grills in the space conjure a dungeon or place where this monster is being caged.

The snaking, oscillating nature of sound waves was bound to form part of the Snake Pi series. Alongside the large Snake Pi (version 2) in the tower space is the unassuming Snake Pi Recital. The work is an audio recording: the number pi recited to 1000 decimal places in a snake dialect. The raspy voice and monasteric tone almost lull the listener into a snake charmer’s hypnotic state.

Snake Pi (version 3i) is an animation lasting exactly 3.14 hours (3 hr 8 min 24 sec), a simple snake appears on screen and slowly slithers and twists up and around itself until it fully fills the shape of pi, before pulling its body along the path it has made, and disappearing from the bottom of the picture. The work purposely references the display of mobile phones from the late 1990s, on which classic snake game was a standard feature.

James R Ford was born in 1980 in England and now lives and works in Wellington (NZ). He graduated from Goldsmiths in 2005 and has exhibited internationally. Ford has work in the permanent collections at the Moderna Museet (Sweden) and The James Wallace Arts Trust (New Zealand) and has co-written and illustrated the book House Gymnastics.