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Turns out, seeing faces staring back at you from inanimate objects isn’t a sign that you’re losing your mind, it’s just proof that your brain is working. It’s called pareidolia: the phenomenon of seeing familiar patterns where none exist, and it looks like British artist Peter Liversidge sees faces pretty much everywhere.
Actually, not quite, because Liversidge doesn’t see a bunch of different faces in the objects and images collected here, just a single one, over and over again: a blank, emotionless meh, the neutral, no-reaction emoji. It’s glaring at you in neon form as you walk in and it’s painted in black over images of tropical islands ripped out of magazines. The two dotted eyes and slitted mouth peer out from hung Persian carpets, they’re stamped into chunks of Styrofoam, cardboard, wood and bits of litter on the main wall. It’s like some kind of ethnographic trash collection.
But where once these kind of ultra-simple marks may have recalled tribal masks, or primitive cave painting-likedepictions of the human face, they now scream with a different, emotionless, symbolism: the blank empty nothingness of an emoji.
The Persian rugs say it best. Here are three artefacts that are imbued with the history of their craft, marked by the thousands of feet that have walked on them, and all that history has been obscured, washed away and paved over. Before, there was a story, now there’s just a face, an empty stare.
It feels like Liversidge is laying bare the barren, detached, desensitisation of modern meh culture. All these faces watching you walk around the gallery feel worryingly modern, and depressingly human.