Timon & Melchior Grau

For much of human history, the messenger was a person. An envoy sent from one to another, carrying news. The message came laden with physical journey. It was handed over, from hand to hand.

In their solo show at Shore Gallery, Timon and Melchior Grau enact a new kind of exchange, asking what a message becomes when it is sent and seen on a screen. Evolved from the brothers’ own exploratory practice over iPhone, their series of word paintings take abrupt text excerpts and frame them into tangible objects. The linguistic artefacts forge a new kind of corporeality — but one from which the speakers themselves have withdrawn.

With their reflective glass surfaces, these impersonal messengers summon us into a relationship, but on uncertain ground. As direct appeals, repetition, and compressed text-speak alter the tone and terms of exchange, the viewer’s position keeps shifting. We find ourselves in a strange, oscillating territory where identity falters. r u sure what side ur on?

Holding up passivity against possibility, the Grau brothers interrogate the inescapable bind of digital communication, where limitless scope comes with meticulous surveillance, and each messenger and message is mined for data. As the works reflect on the traditions of text and portraiture to ask how we look at icons, signs, and objects, so too must the viewer scrutinize their own body — are they unique and expressive subject, or only a target group?