Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
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INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno

The Guardian FEBRUARY 27, 2007 - by Alfred Hickling

BRIAN ENO

Baltic, Gateshead

Brian Eno is best known as a founder member of Roxy Music, as a record producer and the pioneer of meandering ambient albums which go nowhere for a very long time. His paintings are rarely exhibited in this country. Baltic has made up the shortfall by showing seventy-seven million of them all at once.

Of course, Eno's "paintings" are paintings in the sense that Music For Airports is a popular party album. Constellations (77 Million Paintings) - to give it its full title - is a sound and light installation in which a computer generates an almost infinite combination of hand-painted slides. Essentially, it's a giant kaleidoscope with a therapeutic soundtrack, though the effect is inescapably seductive.

The patterns change so slowly that you are barely aware of them melting into one another, while the music murmurs imperceptibly in the background. At times, one is reminded of Matisse cutouts or Pollock scratches; at others, of lurid tie-dye experiments and 1970s wallpaper.

Yet perseverance induces an almost spiritual state of mind as the gallery acquires the dimension of a cathedral nave illuminated by a giant piece of animated stained glass. Spectators gaze transfixed, seemingly undergoing the same kind of mystical episodes prompted by Olafur Eliasson's Weather Project at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall.

Whereas Eliasson presented the illusion of a giant sun, Eno suggests the vastness of outer space. The work operates on a stellar timescale - it would take several million years to witness every possible variation, though Eno's installation is worth half an hour of your time at least. Baltic already possesses a smart set of elevators; it now has the perfect piece of art to go with them.


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