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As Adam Welter explains in his introduction to Without Number, this installation, made in collaboration with Gary Warner, is primarily an experimental artwork, rather than 'a completed indivisible object'. Put another way, Without Number is very much work in progress, or work as process.
Structured around the 'nee-geometry of Chaos', or those fractal relations 'usually excluded from that class of things we think of as geometric', Without Number presented a series of rapidly changing graphic forms relentlessly invading a screen with shapes ranging from crystal, snowflake -like fragments, to a dense, honeycombed haze, reminiscent of city lights and headlights seen by night from the friendly skies. If primitives watched the stars, finding great bears, little bears and clues to the past and present, Warner and Welter invite us to follow the computer's comets, as-to quote from Bronwyn ClarkCoolee's elegant catalogue essay-'forms of infinite length crowd into finite areas and dimensional space'.
At first glance all this seems alarmingly hypertechnological; a kind of mechanical chaos reminiscent of late sixties light shows, but purged of the slow, relaxing quality of all those multicoloured bubbles. As Welter notes, the seductive, everaccelerating momentum of computerized installations like Without Number 'is not achieved without concessions'. Means seem to replace ends in an art of interminably methodical madness, in which 'the process is most important, that is, no goal is being worked toward '. To quote Welter once again, this sort of work may well seem to be 'antithetical to the usual practices of art'.
But Without Number is not simply an exercise in computer painting 'by numbers'. Both Warner and Welter substantially modify their work's basic, formulaic, anti-formulae. Just as one becomes accustomed to the angular energies of fractal graphics, the scamperings of an Amiga mouse animate the image of a keyboard, as Welter programmes things before our very eyes, rather like Picasso or Pollock painting on glass before the camera. In its turn, Warner's soundtrack animates and accompanies the screen's frantic iconography with a resonant chorus of cicada cries taped on Stradbroke Island.
To one's relief, Without Number counterpoints the austere mechanical surprises of its fractal patterns with its creators' more whimsical contributions, somewhat as Duchamp's readymades supplement the anonymity of their mass-produced materials with successive 'designer jokes'. Perhaps still more elaborate interventions might be made by Warner and Welter in future collabo·rations-certainly this interaction between the technological and the contextual, and between the programmatic and the idiosyncratic, interested me more than previous work of this kind. Briefly, Without Number seems very much-and very successfully-we// within the 'usual practices' of art, both as a contribution to the kinetic tradition, and as an exploration of multimedia, multi-referential collaboration. More please!