© (c) Dan Norton

ABLAB 2004

Dan Norton (1968 – )


Accession number


Dan Norton’s use of digital animation demands active rather than simply imaginative engagement from the viewer. Although Ablab can play happily on it’s own, the work really only comes into being when the viewer takes up the mouse and begins to play. The works’ title is a contraction of abstract labyrinth, referring to the multiple layers of content which can be progressively explored and layered over one another. Meaning is here entirely unstable and can be created only in the mind of the viewer, different each time he or she engages with the work. Ablabexists in perhaps its purest form as a web-based work, which the artist is constantly updating. This is a work which foregrounds the flux of data in the digital realm and allows for a democratic multiplicity of viewpoints. The viewer is free to abstract meaning from each new configuration or sequence of sound, photographic image, random text and geometric coloured shapes. There is no hierarchy of form or content , and the work presumes a familiarity with integration of computer technology into everyday life which sets it apart from any earlier celebration of machine-age advances, or from a supposed separation of art from science.

The third state in which Ablab exists is as performance. Using a consol designed by himself, the artist will “operate” the work, thereby introducing another set of variables in the form of his own subjective responses to both the content of the work, the place and to the audience itself. Ablab’s very shape-shifting quality situates it beyond earlier debates concerning art taken out of the gallery and into the public realm. Digital technology allows for a work to be experienced almost anywhere from a club in Glasgow to an internet café in downtown Bombay, to the laptop in your bedroom. Old parameters of value are neatly sidestepped, since everyone viewing the work is experiencing the original, which is free at the point of delivery.

Supernova, British Council, London 2005