Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Henry Ergas, 2009
paper, cardboard, wire, paint and pen (10 parts)
This installation forms part of a fascinating endeavour by Simon Yates to harness the contents of his mind – thoughts, feelings and memories – in the service of his artistic practice. The result is Brain Scapes, an abstracted, sculptural self-portrait in the form of star-like shapes suspended between ceiling and floor.
Deliberately lo-fi, Brain Scapes is constructed from everyday materials and is painted black – the latter hinting at extraterrestrial dark matter. The work forms a visual palimpsest of Yates’ interests and influences, with an array of images and texts attached to each shape. These have been assembled following a practice he calls ‘information ecology’ or ‘infodiversity’.
One attached item is a comic book or storyboard drawn in his youth, of all that he could remember at that time. Another is a painting produced under the influence of certain recurring feelings that Yates has tried to access by listening to music – pieces that he both likes and dislikes. Details of all of these experiences and memories are included on the surface of the work: there’s a reproduction of a Rolling Stones record cover and references to Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings.
Yates likens his practice to that of an inventor. He has experimented with a number of different machines and models. Some of his installations have included walking robots made from balsa wood and paper, held up by helium balloons and activated via remote control.
History should be defined by the degree of novelty at any given time.