Your shadow rising Toby Ziegler
The autonomy of the image in the works of Toby Ziegler, a London-based multi-media artist is questioned by the expansion of digital media, and its transformation of our perception of the material world. Advances in technology have prioritised speed and proficiency over tactility and substance, and the traditional concept and production, as well as the hermeneutical aesthetics of a painting, or sculpture, is now varied.
Ziegler’s practice is an investigation into how digital forms, and their construction, oscillate between intangible and cartesian space; a constant push and pull between abstraction and figurative, classical composition and digitally generated and manipulated imagery, and the outcome when you attempt to translate them into something physical.
Through painting, sculpture, and video, Ziegler interrogates the role of the artist in ‘Your shadow rising’ at Mona – The Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania. New works reflect on themes of origins, trauma, and transformation, embodied in the inclusion of fire and ‘a lump of volcanic rock’; and Ziegler’s largest sculpture to date – the show’s eponym – a grey 3D printed monument of Rococo forms that look like layers of sedimentary rock.
A large-scale hand titled The human engine (2018) – a faceted, polygonal replica of the body part, manufactured from clear Perspex – is suspended from the ceiling. In its prismatic refraction of light and shadow cast onto the floor below, the complexities of computational mechanics and virtual networks, as well as the various dimensions of art making, are visible.
‘The starting point for this sculpture was a drawing by Hendrick Goltzius, a Dutch Baroque printmaker, draftsman, and painter,’ says Ziegler. ‘He drew his own hand after it was injured by molten metal – an accident that he felt was more of a blessing than a curse because it transformed the way he drew. He used sweeping arches from his shoulder rather than his wrist, and he claimed that this process made his drawing far superior to his earlier efforts. The hand is a reference to the physical processes of transformation in my own work.’ Thus, the sculptural piece is a fitting introduction to the overall concept of the exhibition.
Subject and medium strengthen in their merger while their narrative is stripped away, literally