As “Personal Structures: No Borders” questions the role of creative and cultural thinking in today’s time and place, artist Gayane Yerkanyan presents deconstruction as a fundamental process for investigation. The exhibition title has a double meaning where “NOR” phonetically translates to “new” (նոր) in Armenian, while reading as a negating function word in English. As a “new/not” form of Dada, the installation aims to challenge established structures (plastic and symbolic) and offer alternative visual mechanisms for experiencing disruption.

Gayane represents Armenian typography and its permutations as a metaphor for the individual in an increasingly globalised world. The artist draws parallels between the decontextualised letter and the displaced individual, where new contexts provide new opportunities for interpretation. Her process is obsessive: working within strict limitations of form and colour to create infinite variations and “errors” as she calls them. Like the sequence of letters forming our genetic code, one small alteration can translate to new forms of life.

In its mutant form, the deconstructed letter is freed from the limitations of its function as a tool for communication. For the Armenian-illiterate audience, this feeling is accentuated as barriers of translation become doorways to aesthetic formal exploration. For the Armenian reader, the distortions can be perceived as a Dadaist assault, of sorts, a dismantling of traditional and even sacred cultural assumptions. For Gayane, the process is a form of reverence reflecting a deep desire to redefine Armenian modernity.

Through the incorporation of augmented reality, that is the revealing of virtual animation upon scanning Gayane’s graphics with a smart device, we introduce the “absurd Dadaist machine,” where today’s information technology substitutes the iron gears of the early 20th century. How has IT changed the artist’s craft, lifestyle, and the viewer’s experience of the visual world? The absurdity lies in questions of accessibility. The augmented reality experience predicates a smart device, but how long of a life span does this reality have? NOR-DADA’s tech component is self-aware, understanding that technology is short-lived, as new innovations render former solutions irrelevant.

Anna K. Gargarian, Curator