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"Matt Mullican: More Details from an Imaginary Universe "
2000-10-22 until 2001-01-07
Museum of Modern Art, Oxford
Oxford, , UK

The Details from an Imaginary Universe are details of places that exist, they don't exist in themselves. If you look at the pictures, there's a bus, a car, a plant. There's nothing in there that doesn't really exist in some approximate form. It's only the physical object that doesn't exist---that's the interesting thing for me. Matt Mullican

This quote from Matt Mullican, which is taken from the interview with Michael Tarantino, seems to lie at the heart of the artist's practice. Mullican has always been concerned with the relationship between perception and reality, between the ability to see something and the ability to represent it. For the past twenty years, he has produced a body of work which investigates the processes of perception, just how we may translate the world around us. By drawing on such concepts as the inventory or the encyclopedia, Mullican's work is nothing less than an attempt to organise the world, to distinguish between what we see and how we categorise it. Diderot was collecting, of course. Somehow, he had it in him that collecting everything was possible. Now it's an impossibility. It was impossible then, but one had the sense that they could do it. I think we always have that sense. Mullican's work is about the impossibility of collecting and representing everything, yet going on with the project regardless.

It is not surprising that this has led him to use an extraordinarily varied set of media: posters, rubbings, drawings, lightboxes, computers, glass works, metal plates, video, performance, stone pieces, bulletin boards, stained glass, etc. It is as if the infinite variety of subject matter - nothing less than the world of experiences - is reflected in the different types of images it generates. Like Warhol, Mullican's use of serialty and multiplication addresses the relationship between high and low art, between poor and advanced media.

The original title for this exhibition was to be WORLD / INFORMATION / ARCHITECTURE. Therein lie the three principle areas of concern for Mullican: the world of experiences, the information that we must continually process, the field of architecture that attempts to make sense of that world, that information. And yet, as the project developed, More Details from an Imaginary Universe seemed a more apposite title. Here was the core of Mullican's concerns: the real, concrete objects and sensations that underpinned the imaginary. Here was the basis of his often-stated object of entering the picture: to see the world, or a picture of it, as both part of the universe and a universe unto itself.

IMAGE:
Computer Project (1989-90)
16 Light box transparencies


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