Mike Kelley Level 2: Room 9, The Jacobs Gallery

In Channel One, Channel Two and Channel Three, Mike Kelley brings together the rational forms of minimalist sculpture with a more mystical psychedelic sensibility.

Viewers are encouraged to kneel at the intersection of three long plywood structures and peer through the lenses at the ends of each box. The interiors glimpsed within are made of simple tin foil saturated with light in the primary colours of yellow, blue and red, a reference to colour principles developed by the painter and writer Hans Hofmann. Meanwhile, a grating noise emanates from an adjacent boom box.

This combination of elements, intended to simulate a trance-like state, appears alternately informal yet unsettling, mundane yet mesmerising. It reflects Kelley’s interest in folk myths and the collective unconscious by hinting at possible relationships between Ufology, psychedelia and spiritualism. It can also be seen as parodying minimalism, turning its primary structures into makeshift mind-altering tools.

The soundtrack recalls Kelley’s interest in the experimental performances of futurism and dada, as well as his own background as a noise rock musician. There are also suggestions of the alleged recordings of ‘spirit voices’ on tape known as electronic voice phenomena.

This work is accompanied by photographs of Kelley’s early performance pieces using sculpture-props, including Perspectaphone, Spirit Voices, Tower of Babel, Oracle at Delphi and Indianana (all 1978).

Mike Kelley was born in 1954 in Detroit, Michigan. He moved to California in 1976 to study at CalArts. He lived and worked in the Los Angeles area until his premature death on 31 January 2012.

Curated by Stuart Comer, Valentina Ravaglia and Catherine Wood.

See also

Tate Liverpool Exhibition

Mike Kelley: The Uncanny

20 Feb – 3 May 2004
Mike Kelley: The Uncanny, Tate Modern

Mike Kelley: Mobile Homestead

The screening of Mike Kelley's Going West on Michigan Avenue from Downtown Detroit to Westland is introduced by a ...