For Connells Bay Sculpture Park, Mitchell has installed a Stealth Cell Tower; a manufactured pine tree form that cloddishly camouflages to its surroundings in an attempt to hide in plain sight. This large and highly conspicuous tree transmits a radio signal across the park on an FM radio bandwidth (that can be tuned into by visitors), on an endless loop. Mitchell attempts to (intentionally unsuccessfully) mimic or blend the work into its surroundings, but the form of the introduced contagion in this particular landscape render it conspicuous (Connells Bay has gone to great lengths to eradicate this noxious tree from this environment).
Mitchell’s subterfuge attunes us (both literally and metaphorically) to the responsibility the artwork has to transmit a ‘signal’, and the viewer’s responsibility to interpret the signal. By making the infrastructural support the transmitter, Mitchell looks to the role of mimicry and deception in the production of meaning. An artwork’s ability to communicate an affective transmission relies on the infrastructure and network established by art history, which codes our perception of objects more acutely, perhaps, than our own field of perception, driven by biological impulses and cognitive processes as much as environmental and cultural influences (you know, subjectivity).
The pine tree overtly mimics its surroundings, and the invisible pulse of a radio frequency mimics the transmission of a signal from a sculptural object. Mitchell draws our attention to the invisible networks and associative histories that impact on and create perturbations in our field of experience.
The work will be installed at Connells Bay for a period of six months, and is viewable by booking a tour of Connells Bay Sculpture Park: http://www.connellsbay.co.nz/sculpture-parkenquiry-form