The Small Infinite

The Small Infinite

John Hansard Gallery

Mark Lewis, Outside the National Gallery, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.
August 18, 2014
The Small Infinite

5 August–20 September 2014

The John Hansard Gallery
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ
United Kingdom

T +44 (0) 23 8059 2158

Featured artists
Mark Amerika, Elif Ayiter, Bill Balaskas, Bronwen Buckeridge, Sophie Clements, Susan Collins, Max Eastley, Tim Head, Henriette Heise, Chris Henschke, John Latham, Mark Lewis, Karl Lemieux, Patrick Pound, Charlie Sofo and Paul Thomas & Kevin Raxworthy


The Small Infinite showcases works by a diverse range of international artists that explore the infinite through the lens of the infinitesimally small. In this context, how are issues of time, scale, human relationships and the role of contemporary society played out? What does it mean to be one person in 7,251,451,930?

In conscious opposition to gigantism and grandiosity, the exhibition presents a different landscape: one made of infinite smallness, worlds within worlds, within worlds… ad infinitum (towards infinity). Time in this landscape is something that, in its smallest unit, can be assembled to construct awe-inspiring works of art. Rejecting the current trend for grandiose gestures, the show reflects upon a world where worth and value are often represented through the most disproportionate of terms, The Small Infinite celebrates the strength and endurance of the minuscule.

The Small Infinite focuses on more intimate perceptions of reality, ranging from photography and works on paper to sculpture, video installation and digital interventions. The exhibition explores the theme of the infinitesimally small through a range of fine art practices as diverse as particle physics, the economic crisis, utopianism, hacking, virtual worlds and the materiality of film.

Brian Holmes in the Affectivist Manifesto writes: “And so finally we reach the scale of intimacy, of skin, of shared heartbeats and feelings, the scale that goes from families and lovers to people together on a street corner, in a sauna, a living room or a café.”

For The Small Infinite, the artists have been selected and new works of art commissioned in order to present to the viewer a different interpretation of our world. These artworks engage with the minimal, the minute and the intimate, reflecting upon a society where worth and value are often represented through the most disproportionate of terms. The exhibition serves to remind us that, under the hammer-blows of life and time, what endures is the small.

Works include Ou la Mort (2014) by Bill Balaskas, which sees a 1967 French typewriter with selected keys removed pass comment on political struggles and global unrest over recent decades, and digital prints by Tim Head and Susan Collins that offer the viewer a more granular aesthetic through digital technology. The quiet and contemplative is continued in two film works by Mark Lewis, examining the interior and exterior of The National Gallery, while Elif Ayiter takes the viewer to an online virtual universe through prints made entirely from computer coding.

History and narrative are explored through Patrick Pound’s found eBay photographs, while the infinite movement of the globe is documented through Max Eastley’s sculpture, as well as in films by Sophie Clements, Karl Lemieux, Charlie Sofo and Chris Henschke, whose data-driven Edge of the Observable offers an insight into experiments at the Large Hadron Collider and ‘big data.’

Notions of journeys and travel are present in the dystopian Google Street video journey of Mark Amerika, while Henriette Heise’s series of labyrinthine drawings made in hotel rooms around the world brings the exhibition back to the more minuscule and meditative, infused with melancholy.

Central to the exhibition is the inclusion of works by British artist John Latham (1921–2006). Latham’s work explored complex philosophical ideas, and posed questions appropriate for The Small Infinite as a complete body of work: What is the Universe? What is God? What is knowledge?

The Small Infinite is a John Hansard Gallery exhibition curated by Lanfranco Aceti with Vince Dziekan, in partnership with Winchester School of Art.


The Small Infinite at the John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton

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John Hansard Gallery
August 18, 2014

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