‘How does entanglement in the technical circuits of ‘progress’ shape not just dreams, but the capacity to dream?’
– Jem Noble
Dream Dialects is a solo exhibition of online, offsite and gallery-based artworks by Jem Noble (CA/UK), a mixed-media artist based in Vancouver (unceded Coast Salish territories) and Melbourne (unceded territories of the Kulin Nation). In this Te Tuhi-commissioned exhibition, Noble draws from ongoing research investigating technical media artefacts and processes as intimate entanglements of matter, subjectivity and culture, through which the conditions of globalisation are both produced and contested. To do so, Noble takes materials and ideas on diverse journeys of intermedial translation and transformation, featuring widespread and obscure forms of technical media including but not limited to 16mm film, VHS, DVD, Laserdisc, books, posters and networked devices – fabricated, documented, ordered, outsourced, collected, uploaded and broadcast.
Specifically, the exhibition includes a series of responses to the New Zealand film Sleeping Dogs (1977), directed by Roger Donaldson, and to the novel Smith’s Dream (1971), by C. K. Stead, on which the film is based. Both the novel and film tell a fictional tale of an insidious authoritarian power supplanting liberal democracy under familiar mantras of economic crisis and national security. Dream Dialects takes the contemporary resonance of this story as a starting point to consider the material and technical media through which narratives circulate, and how such mediation affects the nature of subjectivity and its capacity for political action.
In 2021 Noble was invited by Te Tuhi to enrich the documentation of Dream Dialects via the gallery’s updated online exhibition platform, and the artist responded with a series of trompe l’oeil modifications to exhibition photography by Sam Hartnett. Noble’s pictures include distorted yet functional QR codes, which are best viewed on a desktop computer or tablet, encouraging awkward congress between multiple devices in order to scan the codes and activate a virtual tour of exhibition content and contexts. Please note, in order to view these images on a mobile phone without automatic cropping, devices should be tilted in landscape orientation, but may not resolve at large enough scale for the QR codes to be scanned successfully.
Jem Noble (CA/UK) is a mixed-media artist whose wide-ranging practice explores the mutual composition of environment and experience through poetics of force, form, fabrication, and feedback. Exhibition contexts for Noble’s work include Artforum International (pull-out poster with Te Tuhi, March 2021 issue), NGV Triennial (Melbourne), Performance Studies International/Fluid States (with David Cross), dOCUMENTA 13 (with GRADCAM DIT and EARN), Manifesta 7 (with Piråtbyrån), and ICA London. Since 2012 Noble’s practice has been informed by his status as first-generation European Settler on unceded Coast Salish territories, and a pansexual Queer member of a polity including Indigenous peers.