March 6, 2019

Liquid Crystal Display

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Waad AlBawardi, The Hidden Life of Crystals, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

Minerals, magic and machines shape Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art's spring season

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art’s (MIMA) spring season explores the intersection between geology and new technology. Liquid Crystal Display, an exhibition of historic mineral collections and work by 23 artists and scientists, proposes that we live in a crystal era.

Liquid Crystal Display
Historically associated with mystical healing, gazing and alchemical practices, crystals are integral to contemporary technology including computers, mobile phones and state-of-the-art medical equipment. At the heart of a laser-beam is a vibrating crystal. The touch-screen technologies that keep us connected are enabled by liquid crystal that polarises light and conducts electricity.

Travelling from Sheffield’s Site Gallery, Liquid Crystal Display has expanded to include minerals from the Middlesbrough area and works from the Middlesbrough Collection held at MIMA. New additions draw on themes of extraction, mineral exploitation and the sensual appeal of sparkling objects from the deep. The show is co-curated by MIMA’s new Director Laura Sillars and Assistant Curator Helen Welford, and Angelica Sule from Site Gallery

Liquid Crystal Display takes shape around an ambitious new sculptural display device by Anna Barham, titled Crystal Fabric Field. Barham’s structure, based on the fundamental geometric form of naturally growing crystals, houses artworks by 23 artists, all exploring the material possibilities of crystals. An underlying concern of Liquid Crystal Display is the ecological context of our technological, media-saturated environment. The project builds on Jussi Parikka’s A Geology of Media which reflects on the entanglement of the natural and technological world.

The exhibition demands an engagement with the materiality of our current technology as well as its use. Through technologies combining touch and temperature, minerals materialise images at accelerated speeds. These images surprise, seduce and shape us. Esther Leslie has argued in Liquid Crystals: The Science and Art of a Fluid Form, that liquid crystal is a defining metaphor for our age.

Artists include; Waad AlBawardi; Conrad Atkinson; Lise Autogena & Joshua Portway; Ralf Baecker; Anna Barham; Karen David; The Crystal World (Jonathan Kemp, Martin Howse and Ryan Jordan); Ângela Ferreira; Hermann Jünger; Liliane Lijn; Ann Lislegaard; Matterlurgy; Penny McCarthy; The Otolith Group; Mungo Ponton; Wendy Ramshaw; Eva Rothschild; Ruskin Collection; Shimabuku; Kiki Smith; Robert Smithson; Suzanne Treister; Lisa Walker and Jennifer West. A selection of minerals from the Dorman Museum Geological Collection spotlights the area’s mineral heritage.

The institute’s exhibitions work alongside a wide-reaching public programme and range of activities with the community. A public programme of talks and events developed around the overarching themes of minerals, magic and machines in relation to the environment, draws together artists, scientists and technologists.

A publication brings together texts by Anna Barham, Jussi Parikka, Esther Leslie, Jeanine Griffin and Laura Sillars.

Supported by Henry Moore Foundation and LUX. Touring Partner: Site Gallery


Community Day
At the centre of the programme, our weekly Community Day brings together people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, abilities, classes and nationalities to share food and collectively make, learn, and debate.

Middlesbrough Collection
The Middlesbrough Collection, housed by Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, encompasses art and craft made by British and international artists from the mid-1800s to today. This collection features an eclectic mix of works, intertwining British and international artists, and combining various media, styles, periods, and subjects. The 2019 re-hang opens on March 23.

Art in Action
MIMA works with constituents who inform and shape who we are and what we do and we have a space for presenting our extensive community-based work. We highlight work with constituents that takes place within MIMA and beyond the museum.

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