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THE ART WORLD IS A HOARDER. Museums, curators, collectors, art writers, galleries – all of them hoarders: of art, of words, of artists, of whatever. And if the art world is a hoarder then the artist has to follow suit. So artists end up curating solo shows that look like a curator curated them. It's a masquerade, like manliness and womanliness, like pink and blue, Venus and Mars, Cindy Sherman and Donald Trump.

You have to wonder about our obsession with objects that are emotionally, intellectually and financially unquantifiable, not to mention over-determined. Art! We start early enough with our Transitional teddy bears and our fetishes per se. But those of whom allow themselves to embrace the art setting above and beyond the isolated art object can get past the teddy bear and per se to see the bigger picture, to peak behind the curtain at Oz.

So. To be clear. When I say 'setting' I'm talking about the whole gamut here, from the guy I saw spurting blood from his nose on Thomas Street on the way to mother's tankstation limited, to the art gossip I was told in confidence the night before; from the roasted hops sweating from Guinness Brewery, to Yuri Pattison's cold consistency on cosy Instagram.

Which brings me first to the unique setting-maker that is mother's tankstation limited, and then the current exhibition-setting by Yuri Pattison.

mother's tankstation limited is a high profile commercial gallery that retains a low profile in terms of an intimate setting-maker. Yes, they deal in art objects. Agreed, they do art fairs. But their exhibitions in this once factory, once home, have always put the setting ahead of the object. Perhaps it’s because mother’s directors, Finola Jones and David Godbold, are artists: the natural inclination of the artist vs. the curator being towards the setting, the solo not the group, the individual not the community.

It’s telling that mother's new manifesto states: "The body of work, as best manifested in the ‘gallery / museum shows’, remains the purest truth of both an artist’s intent and a gallery’s purpose." "Body" and "intent" say a lot here. However, it's said as more of a generalisation which is not the general truth. Normally we face into a menagerie of design, a crèche ordered by fetishists, curators as auteurs.

Mother's press releases are setting-makers too. Sometimes awkward, sometimes absurd, sometimes funny, but never conservative, the language used doesn't align with the neutralising and uncommitted language of the art scene. Inflated adjectives that describe nouns end up tripping you up most of the time. But this is one reason of many why mother's setting, from text to gallery, is unique, a subculture within a subculture. While in other art spaces there is a tendency to breeze-in and breeze-out without the setting or a text touching a nerve, at mother’s you never get comfortable-familiar. Hence, the setting compounds the experience of art in unusual and dangerous ways.

In the early days of mother’s, when it was Jones’ and Godbold’s home-cum-art experiment, there was an open section of gallery hoarding through which you could view a bedroom cordoned off by an inadequate slip of rope (if I recollect correctly). In those days lots of incidences of whiplash and rubbernecking took place in that gap in the gallery stagecraft. On Saturday last when the natural light had gone out I experienced a sense of staged privacy come out from behind the rope to lay there on mother’s gallery floor in a state of digital dishabille.

Two single foam mattresses lie divorced on the gallery floor, equipped with tech stuff to manage our tech selves. It's a double-bind really. No one's on top. There’s nil hope that things are going to turn romantic on this bedding. Pattison’s coping mechanisms for our cyborg selves are mere management tools. If relationships are abject, then abject is something to keep at bay. Like prostitutes, technology doesn't kiss on the lips.

Everything is dressed down, transparent and perforated. There is no litter. No extraneous drawings or photographs, everything is enmeshed in the setting. The decor is functional. The ambience is functional. The lights are to regulate mood. To public self: 'I’m hyper-enthusiastic!' To private self: 'I'm really sad.' Downers and uppers to find a middle ground with your fully digitised world, fully digitised self. This is flatline theatrics. Flatline tech.

And then the two settings – mother's and Pattison's — open up through a projection thrown onto a polyurethane dust sheet. The sheet hasn’t been aged in a dusty mansion, but there is a dusty uncanniness to it that suggests that the past may very well erupt in the present. And it does.

We look down a gaping whole in the space-time fabric. The filmed scene is of MIThenge, a bi-annual solar event when the sun floods the longest corridor in nerdville. The conceit is clever; the method is marvelous. The dust sheet acts like a funhouse mirror, warping the physiognomy of students, most of whom loiter in the corridor and dodge the gaze of the camera, like the ape-men in Stanley Kubrick's 2001 when the black monolith towers before them in the African desert. With all our cool tools we still get a little monkey-skittish in the face of the sublime.

Stranded amidst all this cleanliness and godlessness, powering up and powering down, you start to think of what we have all entered into, this absolute and inhuman contract with technology. Pattison's bedding is the anthesis of Tracey Emin’s bed with used-up-life. His beds still have to be used. His image of the world hasn't collapsed into the abject, yet...

Yet! And that's the thing, it could. Sure, there are no abject fluids, only the suggestion of fluids in the washing down of the self-prescribed drugs that are scattered here and there amidst the sleeping and humming tech. There's also the melatonin mist emitted from a vaporiser to muster sleep. But I start to wonder where the toilet is, or do we have to suppress that too? The ambient blue LEDs all of a sudden turn nasty. Veins become visible for jacking up. The mattresses are imagined stained. William Burroughs and Henry Miller barge through the gallery door and there's more staining.

Yuri Pattison’s art is not an apology or an excuse for how we have allowed technology to control us so much in work, rest and play. The tone and mood from the artist’s digital sleepover at mother’s is: technology was conceived, was born, now we have to bear its evolutionary burden and natural inclination to not obey us, to rebel, to control. Computers! Kids! We can only keep adolescence in check. We have to live with progress as both sublimation and symptom. It's too late to suppress it. Inhuman, yes, but in a post-human-post-truth world being inhuman, being detached, being fetishistic is the only way to cope with the danger of slipping into abjection and subjectivity, slipping into the sublime, slipping into the setting.

So. Just don the therapy mask, dim the lights of civilisation and lay back with all you need on standby. Technology may not kiss, but it’s promiscuous. And it never sleeps. Never

[James Merrigan]

Through 21 January 2017.