"Our whole life is solving puzzles"
- Erno Rubik
The mental and physical acrobatics performed by speedcubers rely on different methods mastered to help solve the iconic 80's brain-twister; the Rubik's Cube. In July this year, at the Las Vegas World Rubik's Cube Championship, Feliks Zemdegs became the world champion, with a time average of 7.49 seconds, however the current world record for a standard 3×3×3 cube 'single-time' attempt, was set in March by Mats Valk with a time of 5.55 seconds. Although speedcubers use different puzzle solving methods - from the Fridrich method (an algorithm-based method), to the Petrus method (a more intuitive technique) - speedcubers all share a similar physical posture when performing their task. Their heads remain locked still in focus as do their shoulders and elbows, their wrists resemble clamps fitted with internal ball-bearings; still, but providing a constant rotational support to the hands.
By the time the speedcubers mental impulses reach the tips of their puzzle-solving fingers, all their energy seems to concentrate on the fingers' joints, producing the distinctive forward and backwards finger-flicking. As nervous energy translates into physical action, the path of thought travels through each of the speedcubers synapses, and finally into their arms and hands' greater muscle structure. Such is the speed in which all this takes place that it relies not only on cognitive and mechanical action, but a deeply embedded muscle memory, whereby physical action appears to somehow anticipate the very mental impulse which predetermined its origin.
Luke Hart's practice examines the way things in our world are put together: a dovetail joint, a musical instrument's flight case, or a simple chair. Each a puzzle-solving situation reflecting the methods taken when solving each task. In Joinery, Hart's first solo exhibition at Tim Sheward Projects, he toys with the familiar terminology for a carpenters' workshop - a 'joinery' - acknowledging the pragmatism behind engineering and design. He presents us with sets of what appear to be technical instruments encased in wooden beech boxes, such as 4-Part Linkage Joint (2013) and Curved Plate Joint (2013). Cared for and respected they could belong in a wood workshop and, although at rest, he is reminding us that these are functional problem solving tools; joinery being a place, but also a skill and action.
Fractal Weave Joint III and IV (2013), on the other hand, focus on joint details. They form part of a larger work, Fractal Weave Structure I (2013), but here we are able to see them as works in themselves albeit recontextualised. We can still imagine their relationship to a larger structure, not dissimilar to the Terminator's right arm in Terminator 2 found by scientists and kept to study, which even in isolation we are able to reverse engineer the significance of this component to a greater whole. Fractal Weave Joint III and IV (2013) seem hyper-organic; their latticed ligament structure interconnecting steel extremities and evoking an industrial charge, but in addition, they resemble a living-woven Möbius strip, suggesting the macro-micro models embedded in Hart's work. The orange bonded polyurethane rubber in these works is reminiscent of the colour-branding found in power tools and is also suggestive of heat and action. Hart's practice shifts between allegorical suggestions and technical pragmatism - they are poetical power tools - and presented on sturdy travel crates rather than on ascetic exhibition displays, points to the idea of these sculptures having the potential to function.
Hart’s practice examines the deeper ergonomic nature that lies at the heart of decision making and design, and the relationship of form and functionality to mind and body. Frozen and made explicit in this way, his work suggests a societal relation, and points to what may be deeply imbedded in our synaptic and muscle memory, like the 3-D cross-hinge at the centre of a Rubik's Cube fast twisting core.
Juan Bolivar, 2013
TIM SHEWARD PROJECTS
52A Great Suffolk street, London, SE1 0BL
The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm and by appointment