'Uncanny Valley: Recent Sculpture'

Exhibition by Tim Lewis at the Walker
Runs until 22 August

Review by Colin Serjent and Tammy Seibold

A one eared black rabbit, a wooden chair which moves with the aid of crutches, a strobe effect which resembles a doughnut, are among the weird and wacky sculptures of Tim Lewis being shown at the Walker.

Exhibiting for the first time in a public gallery, Lewis, inspired in his art by the tradition of kinetic art and the development of photography, uses a variety of machines, for example, large-scale stroboscopic animations and automated use of humdrum objects, such as an empty packet of Lucky Strike cigarettes, that has a biro attached to it, that moves jerkily along the floor.

The term 'Uncanny Valley' was first used by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori to describe the point at which a machine becomes almost human and lifelike in its appearance or operation.

Examples of this include a mechanical rabbit, far from being a cuddly toy,is set into motion by pre-programmed movements, and takes on a more threatening appearance with its bizzare form of staccato movement and loud guttural sound emanating from it.

One of his most unusual, and newest works, is 'Pet'. in which a garden chair, walking with the aid of two crutches, is startled by a group of rabbits and attempts to move away from them.

Lewis's animation techniques are sometimes reminiscent of the surreal and dark animation of Jan Svanknajer.

"A lot of Tim's work is work in progress - it is never finished as far as he is concerned - and he likes to add more elements to pieces over time", said Ann Bukantas, curator of Fine Art at the Walker. "Some of his work is very complex, but he has followed a similar path in his art work since graduating from the Royal Academy of Art."

"He has always been interested in time and the idea of 'organised chaos'", she added. "Disparate elements are brought together, and everyday objects are turned into something different."

A series of Lewis's preliminary drawings and maquettes helps to gain greater insight into his creative processes in designing these strange and engaging pieces.