“Control Is an Illusion”: New Work from Ben Tricklebank at Gazelli Art House

Endec,” Ben Tricklebank’s new show at Gazelli Art House in London, takes its title from the type of device that serves as both an encoder and a decoder—hence the portmanteau—on a signal or data stream. Fittingly, Tricklebank’s solo show, his first in the UK, explores our developing and sometimes fraught relationship with technology.

The centerpiece consists of a brightly glowing reflecting pool set into the gallery’s ground floor. Filled with an opaque, milky liquid, the pool is meant to serve, in part, as a blank canvas. The L.A.-based filmmaker, photographer, and interdisciplinary artist has rigged the pool with a system of projectors and sensors, which work together to encode visitors into the art. Sensors detect movement in the gallery space, and as visitors approach the pool, they activate its liquid substance, causing it to ripple. The closer you get, the more vigorous the ripples become. Meanwhile, the silhouette of a human forms just beneath the surface, suggesting that we are more immersed in technology than we realize.

Near the pool, Tricklebank’s photographs carry the theme of immersion even further. A nude woman appears, her body partially submerged in thick, white liquid. In one image, the pristine whiteness of her liquid surroundings is shot through with streaks of black ink swirling around her body.

In another, Tricklebank replaces the milky bath with a stark black overlay. As in the submerged silhouettes from the nearby pool, the woman’s form can barely be made out against the blackness. Words, glowing like neon or text on a computer screen, march across the surface, proclaiming, “CONTROL IS AN ILLUSION.” The repeated dictum feels like a prison, exposing only the vague contours of her being.


—Karen Kedmey


Ben Tricklebank: Endec” is on view at Gazelli Art House, London, May 12–Jun. 25, 2016.

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