Camden Arts Centre presented the first solo show in the UK by Swiss artist Raphael Hefti.
For the ten years before the exhibition, he had been interfering with material processes, manipulating and transforming substances to create surprising images and objects. Coming from a technical background with a keen interest in how things are made and what things can do, Hefti sets up pseudo scientific experiments which challenge industrial fabricators and ultimately divert objects from their original state. This exhibition approached his investigations from a specific tangent: discovering mistakes in industrial processes and pushing them to a limit where aesthetic transformations take place, where accidents are seen as productive forces.
Subtraction as Addition is a work that comes out of the Luxar coating process, which produces ‘museum glass’. The process of vaporising specific metals and bonding them to the surface of glass with a high voltage current in a vacuum container eliminates reflection for exhibition purposes. Exaggerating an accidental discovery inherent in the repetition of this process, the large sheets of glass evolve with variable optical behaviour that will change with the ambient light in the gallery. Replaying the Mistake of a Broken Hammer similarly subverts the function of an industrial process, resulting in an aesthetic transformation. A steel rod is subjected to a hardening technique, that is interrupted leaving part of its extension extremely brittle and vulnerable; the resulting gradations of colour and texture testify to this otherwise unknown condition. Lycopodium is a series of large format black & white and colour photograms, creating ambiguous images by burning the spores of the Lycopodium plant on photosensitive paper.