Exhibition: Emanations

Emanations invites us to consider the nature and aesthetics of human and non-human communicative processes. How, and in what kinds of ways, is information and experience transmitted from one mind, agent or entity to another? And what kind of vehicular medium is required to make such a passage possible?

Art presents a dynamic and mutually interdependent interplay of ideas and materials. There is no escaping the fundamental need for a material conduit of some kind to transmit information and experience from one mind/body to another. Importantly, some kind object, text, utterance, gesture, sound, signal, transmission or delineated space is necessary to make transmission possible. Even the most materially reduced forms of art require something that is distinguishable from everything else in order to transcend arbitrariness. Otherwise, there is nothing to receive, feel interpret or experience. Significantly, when a subject attends to something communicated and identified as art, it acknowledges an intention to communicate.

Together with language, consciousness, the dexterity of our opposable thumbs, and the use of tools and technology, art performs a central role in human experience. But how does language shape our capacity for abstract thinking? Some linguists claim that there is no thought without language, whereas theorists of language of thought believe that public language is not necessary for thinking. At any rate, language both augments and complicates lived experience and creative expression.

But what about non-human communication? Is creative expression limited to human experience? The Japanese puffer fish can devote 24 hours a day for seven days to the task of crafting an intricate Mandala-like sand braille sculpture to impress their mate. Meanwhile, bird songs also clearly exhibit extraordinary communicative complexity. Pied butcherbirds, for example, perform what musicologists describe as solos, duos and trios.

For humans, in the simplest sense, the gesture of the hand forms a mark, a signal, a placeholder. It says, “I was here,” or alternatively, “we were here!” Importantly, even this most basic form of experiential communication requires both a mutually understood cultural context and a material form to operate as an agent for transmission.

Does art exist as an interface for certain forms of expression precisely because it can also communicate outside and beyond of more conventional forms of language? What about all the stuff that goes on within, before, after, and alongside language? An artwork presents us with a constellation of semiotics and sensations. Ineffable effects give form and presence to gaps between image and text, that is, between what language is and what it represents.

Stretched to breaking point, language assumes a plastic quality in this exhibition—as if it were something that could be held yet ineffable. Here, language sheds much of its practical communicative role, entering instead into a space that is liberated from rational sense, in flight from interpretation. It is in this realm that new connective tissues might form and prepare us to absorb new worlds made of contradiction. Here, affects are less to do with knowledge or meaning and instead register as sensorial emanations.


Curated by Cūrā8 and featuring:

Melanie Cobham

Annika Koops

Huang Qiuyuan

Wade Marynowsky

Nancy Mauro-Flude

Arthur Nyakuengama

Jeffrey Strayer

The Telepathy Project

Katie West

Chaohui Xie


KATIE WEST, The women plucked the star pickets from the ground and turned them into wana (digging sticks), 2023. Steel star pickets, found farm machinery, radios, fabric, beads. Dimensions variable (Detail) Installation view, The National 4: Australian Art Now, Carriageworks. Photo: Zan Wimberley


WADE MARYNOWSKY, “Rainbow Merman 1”, still from Silicon dioxide, Gluteus maximus, HD video, sound, 3:00 mins, 2023