Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery. 

3 October – 29 November 2020


Thrown is conceived of as an algorithm – a process or set of relations that are constantly forming and reforming, It includes both human and non-human agents with its flattened ontology. Although sitting on high chairs the humans are not privileged in any way. The opposite is in fact true, as they appear totally disinterested in the goings-on around them. Until that is, a warning siren commands them to act out their role in the system: they become animated rushing to retrieve balls and restock the machine.

In the absence of gallery visitors relations between its components; balls, machines, lines, walls, chairs, humans, become stable. A chair is still a chair even in the absence of an audience. The loop(runs): Waiting is not without agency. With the arrival of an audience, the if statement changes.  Mechanisms activate a set of relations and the work becomes itself anew in the trajectory of balls, the anticipation of movement, and the tedium of self-absorption.


The simple act of entering this exhibition may throw you before you even witness one of these machines throw a ball. You have come to the gallery to see an art exhibition, and here you are, about to dodge flying tennis balls as though you have entered a sporting arena. 

The question of what exactly is being thrown is what artist James Charlton has posed in this exhibition, which, in essence captures his four-decade-long sculptural practice. In 2002, philosopher Brian Massumi stated that “philosophy and art bookend science.” What exists between these bookends could be found represented throughout Charlton’s installation, in the act of moving from one side of the gallery to the other. As you move through the strike zones, the idea of ontology — how we exist in relation to art objects — guides you through the gallery as you experience the act of being thrown.

Furthermore, as you make your way through Charlton’s installation, you may wish to consider the way that art can provoke affection, and philosophy can invoke reflection — these two responses often work together to move us, the audience. Not just out of the way of a flying tennis ball, but towards a greater understanding of our own position as human agents within the larger system of art.

Chloe Geoghegan



Mobilise,  an essay by Mark Willson in response to the show.