My thoughts on Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings at Fabrica

by edsilverton

77 Million Paintings

This is (shamefully) the first time I’ve been to the Fabrica Gallery in Brighton. Eno’s name clearly provoked sufficient curiosity to finally lure me in.

I went with my good friend Jake Spicer. We entered into a dark and, characteristically for Eno, ambient-sounding room with what looked like a large digital stained glass window at the end. Fabrica commission installations specific to the space (a Regency church), so the window looked as if it belonged there.

Being the first in we had plenty of space and a sofa to sit on and look at this window. There was no question that we preferred to sit than stand, although we didn’t reflect on why at the time. Perhaps it’s the digital nature of the artwork that put us in a slouchy computer game state of mind. Or perhaps we sat just because we could.

I’m a gamer, and a particular fan of the Half Life series. After sitting for a while and chatting with Jake about what we thought about it I started to get a vague sense of finding it mildly unnerving. I mentioned this to Jake and soon realised why.

There’s this large “window”, presumably composed of multiple LCD screens arranged in a symmetrical pattern. The portal to Brian Eno’s mind perhaps?

Situated beneath it and to the left is a diamond-shaped box on a post emitting a light that gradually and almost imperceptibly changes colour. It looked very much to me like the “guardian of the portal”.

This sense is amplified by the two conic piles of dust/gravel in front of it. These are situated just within the area that the wooden floor of the gallery ends and the stone floored bounds of the artwork begin.

My gamer “spidey sense” was tingling that if I set foot inside that “forbidden zone” (perhaps to try and enter the mind of Brian Eno) the relaxing ambient music would become a piercing alarm. The diamond-shaped guardian would then swivel to face me and zap me into a third pile of dust.