Lucas Dupuy’s work is multi-layered, ambient and cerebral. Touching on subjects as varied as video games, natural landscapes, and semiotics, Dupuy brings together a new body of work across painting, sound and sculpture. Unison focuses on recurring themes in Dupuy’s work, such as ephemerality, escapism and memory, coloured by contrasting – and at times conflicting – feelings of mutation and stasis, digital and analogue systems, futurity, hope and portension.
‘Unison’ comes from the Latin root uni, meaning ‘one,’ and sonous, meaning ‘sound.’ It describes the act of two or more instruments or voices coalescing at the same pitch or octaves – a process which leads to an enhanced single melodic line or, equally, a hollowness as they overlap and phase one another out. This contradiction of form is central to Dupuy’s exhibition, which in many ways alludes to the shifting relationship between sound, visual experience and dissonant cultural effects that have developed in Britain since the 1990s. In particular, what Mark Fisher would describe as ‘the tantalising ache of a future just out of reach.’1 A future of technological progress and cultural hybridity that has, over the course of Dupuy’s generation, increasingly shifted from forward - thinking optimism to ghostly and fragmented apprehension.
Making reference to ‘Sound Mirrors,’ the brutalist monoliths and now-obsolete acoustic mirrors scattered along the South and North East coasts of England, Incubator’s lower floor features a single wall-based sculpture, Listening (2023); a work composed from CNC valchromat, wood and greyboard that exudes a looping ambient soundscape of delayed synths and atmospheric vocals sampled from the cult 00’s dystopian video game, Half Life 2. Pioneering in gameplay physics and set against a liminal, industrial science fiction landscape, Dupuy has long been interested in the game’s ‘save spots’, locations of calm where time slows, the intensity of narrative stills and aesthetics are reduced. For Dupuy, these moments of artificial rest and calm are arrested by an uneasy lack of direction or agency - an eeriness sharpened both in the game and in Dupuy’s sculpture by the spectre of architectural modernism.
Upstairs, Dupuy pushes notions of the atemporal further with a series of sonic-adjacent airbrush paintings on raw hessian. These ethereal works are composed of dense layers of colours that are softly reminiscent of vintage ColourJet inks that pulse softly in and out of the fabric. They appear like sonorous molecules, distending across the surface like frequency waves distilled in water. The rawness of the hessian, the inherent swells and flows of its weaving, alongside the biomorphic forms that Dupuy conjures are at odds with his broader, disquieting technological ambience and teasing urban fatalism. Instead, these works offer a sense of peace or escapism through blissed-out immersion into a hybrid space of digital-organic flora.
Unison highlights both the precarity and the beauty of our contemporary landscape. One which struggles to contend with the promises of the past; with the sharpening relationship between technological progress, temporal distortion and dystopia; and collapsing binaries between digital and organic systems, future and past tense, daydreams and inertia. Still, the landscape Dupuy explores in Unison is one that pushes our thoughts and our desires towards the vanishing points of consciousness, offering a path towards moments of presence and serenity in an increasingly fragmentary and uncertain world. - Charlie Mills