Gabriel Kuri’s “spending static to save gas”
              Ben Eastham
              Gabriel Kuri’s focus on the everyday exchanges that structure our social lives has, in the context of mass confinement, taken on a melancholy aspect. Insulated from the outside world by a PVC strip curtain, a spiral staircase leads visitors down to the Douglas Hyde’s cavernous lower gallery, its volume halved by a makeshift plastic ceiling suspended by thin wires from the rafters. The surface of this translucent canopy is speckled with dead gypsy moths, verdigrised coins, and crumpled cigarette butts arranged into neat grids. Seen from below, they resemble a constellation of exhausted stars or the beads on an abacus designed to calculate some inscrutable and unpayable debt. The exhibition literature casually describes this dropped ceiling as establishing a “static field,” which at least sheds some light on its gnomic title: by reducing the space to be heated in the gallery, the installation conserves energy. Further consultation with an encyclopedia—and its tentatively grasped definition of a “static field” as something like the programming equivalent of a grammatical modifier—suggests that we might interpret the installation’s various elements as constituting a network of relations. The meaning of these materials is determined by the systems in which they participate, much as …

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