In the coming weeks, visitors to NGV may experience a bout of existential unease near the gift shop when they encounter the Hosts. They are four faceless robots who will politely welcome guests to artist Wade Marynowsky’s new survey exhibition, Nostalgia for Obsolete Futures.
This is not a new gallery staffing policy – it’s an introduction to Marynowsky’s self-described “anti-disciplinary” work, where the concepts of robotics, multimedia and sculpture collide. At the heart of the exhibition is a high-camp approach and retro-futuristic aesthetic that date back to the 1960s, used here to explore the barrier between life and technology.
“My doctoral thesis was on the uncanny in art,” explains Marynowsky. “For the Hosts, I went back to the 18th-century automatons. That’s why they’re dressed the way they are.” The effect of these four harlequinesque figures is a genuinely unsettling clash of eerily human movements and voices and less-than-human interactivity.
Beyond the Hosts, Marynowsky’s work includes Black Casino, an interactive piece exploring the relationship between religion and music, using tri-tone, a particular musical interval that was once said to evoke satanic feelings in listeners. It has been used by Bach and Black Sabbath for its melodramatic qualities.
“The notion was that if you play it, people would go into hysterics.” In Marynowsky’s piece, the tri-tone is triggered by spinning a five-point star of black guitars. “It’s about pop culture, masculinity and approaches to Christianity,” he says. “I think it’s quite funny that heavy metal bands are so brainwashed to Christianity that they choose to portray the devil in the way they do.”
“It’s anti-classification, I guess,” says Marynowsky. “I work conceptually, and come up with ideas and then I work out how to realise them. I don’t work in any particular medium or form.”
Wade Marynowsky’s Nostalgia for Obsolete Futures is showing at the NGV until October 19. Entry is free.