In Tribal Fictions Peter Roche continues to explore the relationship between man and machines, and the increasing effect of technology on society. His sculptural creations also allude to the role modern surveillance mechanisms play in our every day lives.
Large highly reflective black enameled discs fill the exhibition space. They lean against the walls of the gallery which are painted the deep, dark blue-black of the night sky. Like soldiers the discs are placed at uniform intervals around the gallery in regimented military order.
Embedded in these discs are strange emblems, symbols and figurative shapes created from used circuit boards. These figures turn and twist, their shapes interacting though not in a human way. They do not talk or touch, their movements are robotic. This de-humanisation creates references to Roche’s earlier objectification of the human body in his performances. Yet these figures relate to each other in their design, they are like mechanical parts which interlock and fit together in order to work. These simple shapes are the futuristic cave drawings of a society taken over by technology, where people are mere cogs in an overall scheme controlled by stronger outside forces.
The Gallery’s sole source of light spills from behind these strange discs, illuminating the wall and circuit imagery. They emerge from the shadows. Hovering like space crafts - their lights alone alert us of their presence. Like constellations in the night sky these lighted circuit boards contain the mystery of the unknown. In past exhibitions such as Trophies and Emblems, Roche’s sculptures buzzed, moved, clanged and whirred, forcing their presence to be noted. In Tribal Fictions the sculptures’ presence is more subtle but just as menacing. These sculptures are deadly silent. They quietly yet aggressively surround us. Observing us from all sides. They are unmoving in their stance.
They are human generated machines yet they observe us. They monitor us like speed cameras or surveillance mechanisms.
In Tribal Fictions we are lured into the gallery under the illusion that we will be the observers. Yet this expectation becomes strangely twisted by upon encountering these passively aggressive machines. We slowly begin to feel that we are ourselves being observed. That we have been unwittingly drawn in to play an active role in this performance.
→ Peter Roche: Tribal Fictions, 1995, publication