Experiment 4, Acutomancy (Images from the Institute of Esoteric Research)

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Edition of 100


25.40 x 20.30 cm paper size
22.90 x 18.01 cm image size

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NB: This is hand printed by the artist on fibre based paper. All our prints come with a certificate signed by the artist and a unique edition number. The prints are produced with a white border around the photograph to allow for framing. We also have included some cotton gloves to protect the print during handling.

With black and white laboratory style constructions, the simplicity of "Images from the Institute of Esoteric Research" by Victoria Jenkins, belies its multi-layered intent.

Interested in the collision between logic and the irrational within scientific discourse, Victoria bases her work on the visual expression of rational investigation, while simultaneously questioning the idea of truth within science.

In the series "Images from the Institute of Esoteric Research" Victoria has looked at the tradition of Divination. Widely practised by the seers of ancient Greece, Divination was employed to interpret the signs of the gods. Used by generals before going into battle and kings in search of good governance, Divination once lay at the heart of religious, political and military society. Today it is clearly understood as an irrational and superstitious practice, though it remains as a part of our culture in the form of fortune telling. No longer central to the organisation of society: it is this very process of change and acceptability of such theories that informs Victoria's work.

To produce a visual language for this moment of transition Victoria has used the vernacular imagery of the school science experiments. For her piece entitled "Alomancy", the process in which a diviner casts salt crystals into the air and interprets the patterns as they fall to the ground, Victoria has reconstructed an experiment based on that old school favourite: the electrolysis of salt water. In "Acutomancy" a method in which seven pointed objects, such as pins or needles, are dropped onto a table and the resulting pattern is interpreted, Victoria constructs a set of scales to show how such objects can be measured, in this cased weighed. And in "Capnomancy", in which the diviner generates a plume of smoke to see how it will disperse, cotton wool, as used by Victorian mediums to simulate ectoplasm, seemingly defies gravity as it rises out of a box.

When you look beyond the surface of what appears to be a scientific experiment you begin to see that none of these experiments are possible and all are a product of Victoria's trickery and fictional constructions. By deliberately creating a conflict between these two approaches to understanding we are made to look twice. The apparent authority of the image, built up through the references to science and photographed in the neutrality of laboratory style conditions, begins to fall away and like Divination, our assumptions appear illogical and illusionary.

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