QUAYS News takes an inside look at Rachel Maclean and her sweetly bitter take on the digital age.

“We all love each other very much,” says the bizarre yellow princess known as Data, although you can’t really take this as truth in the world of the newest project from Rachel Maclean, ‘Wot U 🙂 About’.

The obscene creatures flayed across the walls, crafted into sculptures, and singing on camera are not quite what they seem at first glance.

The project is shown through huge wall hangings, sculptures and a ginormous cinema with three screens, all at HOME in Manchester.

Each depiction of these creatures screams of this fairytale wonder usually associated with childhood, until you take a closer look. Then it just screams.

The bright colours, complex shapes and general upbeat atmosphere define Rachel Maclean. On closer inspection the strange and colourful bowed rats gnawing at the wires visibly link everything together, possibly showing some sort of rebellion.

The technology rats are disgusting yet it is in these vile creatures that the images flourish; deep in their bloody smiles.

The intention is cleary to reveal the dark realities of an attention-seeking, technology-fetishizing generation.

When moving onto the sculptures, each one eerily reminiscent of the next, with scrawlings written in slang.

These each seem to hold some sort of technological commandment of the new age. “Wil not post content that iz h8 speech” reads one, but as it continues, the misshapen rock leaves some of these words unfinished and almost unreadable by the end. They look as if they are falling apart, and it feel like Maclean’s wants her audience to see it this way, like a system falling apart.

The cinema section is the most entertaining part of the exhibition though. The central screen shows the main feature with two screens on either side occasionally showing footage when necessary. Essentially, it tells the story of the images already viewed.

A goddess, Data, is worshipped by her followers (who could just as easily be Instagram followers), all eagerly anticipating her next selfie, while the rats attempt to destroy her by biting at the wiring.

It is a gloriously weird production that ends with a song between the rats and Data, all now connected to each other, and raises a smile, even if it is pointing the finger at the way we use technology and our obsession with it.

This unique exhibition runs until 8 January 2017.

By James Tichborne





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