“You may wish it weren’t the case, but you’ve almost certainly been conditioned by them, inducted somehow into their secret language of apprehension... Those gentle ripples on the surface of a glass of water that accompany the muted reverberations of an ancient and colossal footstep. You know the ones I mean, right? Or the panicked murmuration of birds in flight, the agitated barking of neighbourhood dogs, a pair of terrified eyes glimpsed with chilling clarity in the reverse gaze of a rear-view mirror. ... Chin choreographs these theatrical markers of potential catastrophe into an uneasy repertoire of kinetic portents that feels so ghoulishly familiar — so intravenously proximate — that its Pavlovian effect instantly betrays it for the early warning system we’ve gradually internalised from years spent bathing in the soft glow of multiplex projectors.” - Jamie Sutcliffe ‘Fearful Jello: On Kara Chin’s Kinematics Of Disaster’ (Goldsmiths CCA commissioned text, Sept 2023)
As part of Frieze London 2023’s Focus section, VITRINE presents a solo booth by British-Singaporean artist Kara Chin titled ‘Flames painted on the Backdrop’.
Chin works across animation, sculpture and installation, using playful materials, strange scales and fragmented references as an attempt to create something tangible from confusion. She explores our relationship to increasingly digitised environments and devices by presenting technocratic premonitions of fictional archaic objects and ceremonies. Works explore the extremities of transhumanist ideologies, biohacking, and ecological disaster, and how these exacerbate a haunting of the present by the future. Chin delivers these subjects with injections of humour, combining materials into bizarre narratives and chaotic configurations.
The work presented in ‘Flames painted on the Backdrop’ – all produced over 2023 – explore 21st century disaster movies and video games within a built environment. Throughout the presentation apocalyptic and disaster movie aesthetics and tropes are a constant reminder of an unnamed existential threat, placing the viewer somewhere between the cinema audience and character.
A pre-built wooden structure forms the centrepiece of the installation, holding an LCD monitor displaying an animation, sculptures and large ceramic tablet. The animation ‘Inaugurare’ (2023) –produced for the artist’s solo presentation at Goldsmiths CCA (Jul-Sep 23) – combines ancient roman artefacts and symbology with a rendered figure of Tom Cruise fleeing disaster movie tropes. Animated using a downloaded stock ‘disaster movie’ pack, he acts out a loop of chaotic actions whilst holding a lituus; an ancient Roman wand used by Augurs who foretold the future from the behaviour of birds. Trembling liquids, birds migrating and concerned dogs evoke a collective sense of dread and anxiety, whilst providing an odd yet intelligent humour typical of the artist.
Her exquisitely crafted glazed ceramics build on the subject, providing detailed visual interpretations of further tropes including violent fire, rear view mirrors and dinner tables. The rear-view mirrors show ghostly entities which have been caught in the pathetic fallacy of the object that they exist within, whereas the familiar scene of a set dinner table creates a sense of anxiety as it awaits an unknown happening or action. Ornately decorated with curling flames or tentacles, the works are squirming with bad energy which the artist likens to “having a stomach upset after driving over a big hill”.
The resin raindrop sculptures, fire imbued ceramics and wooden beams become a backdrop to the works, imitating bombastic special effects. The dynamic shapes of the resin sculptures show a moment frozen in time - or a paused film - stuck in the build-up to an exaggerated disaster moment.
VITRINE’s commitment to experimentation within this installation by Kara Chin is supported by Knotenpunkt.
Kara Chin (b.1994, Singapore) lives and works in Newcastle, UK. She holds a BA in Fine Art from The Slade School of Fine Art (2018). She has been awarded the Woon Foundation Painting and Sculpture Prize (2018); The Duveen Travel Scholarship, UCL (2018); The Alfred W Rich Prize, Slade (2017); Max Werner Drawing Prize, Slade (2015).
Chin has exhibited internationally at galleries and museums including: Goldsmiths CCA, London, UK; Humber Street Gallery, Hull, UK; The 8th International Triennial of Art and Ecology, Maribor, SI; BALTIC39, Newcastle, UK; South London Gallery, London, UK; ADM Gallery, Singapore; DKUK, London, UK; Gallery North, Newcastle, UK; Hatch, Paris, FR; CBS Gallery, Liverpool, UK; Tuesday to Friday, Valencia, ES; Science Museum, London, UK; Galerie du Monde, Hong Kong, CN; APT Gallery, London, UK; Fieldworks, London, UK; Quench, Margate, UK; VITRINE, London, UK; VITRINE, Basel, UK; VITRINE, Digital; The Embassy Tea Gallery, London, UK; Subsidiary Projects, London, UK; Pineapple Black, Middlesbrough, UK; The Milton Gallery, London, UK; UCL Art Museum, London, UK; San Mei Gallery, London, UK; IMT Gallery, London, UK; Fold, London, UK; The Pallent House Gallery, London, UK; Off Site Project, Online; Huxley Parlour, London, UK; Linseed Projects, Shanghai, CN; The Art Station, Saxmundham, UK.
Current/forthcoming exhibitions include 'New Eden' at ArtScience Museum, Singapore and a solo presentation, with VITRINE, at Frieze London.