The Dark Cube: Scott Treleaven

The Francesca Gavin-curated Palais de Tokyo expo merges phosphorescent and black lighting

Photo by Michael Barker: Sculpture/fountain: Walki
Photo by Michael Barker: Sculpture/fountain: Walking with Thee (2012) Materials: ceramic fountain, electric aquarium pump, paint, found photograph, varnished wood, cleanser, water

The battle between light and dark, good and bad, hidden and uncovered are themes that have been revisited since the beginning of time, but continuously manage to intrigue and further our inspiration. Curated by Francesca Gavin, the group exhibition ‘The Dark Cube’ seeks to exploit the effect of phosphorescent and black lighting. We caught up with Scott Treleaven to uncover what lurks in the shadows at the Palais de Tokyo this month…

I’ve a fondness for the outmoded in general. All of my memories of black light tend to come from the goth and punk clubs of my youth, where they were used in washroom stalls to discourage junkies from finding their veins

Dazed Digital: How did the idea develop for the upcoming show, The Dark Cube?
Scott Treleaven:
Francesca Gavin had come by my studio to look at work for another project. She caught a glimpse of a piece I was working on and said, “What’s that?” It was part of a series of abstract drawings I’ve been doing recently. She was excited about it and called me later that day to tell me about the Dark Cube show, and how she thought the new drawings would be perfect for it.

DD: The show explores the possibilities of using black or UV lighting in art - how do your pieces incorporate this medium?
Scott Treleaven:
I’ve a fondness for the outmoded in general. All of my memories of black light tend to come from the goth and punk clubs of my youth, where they were used in washroom stalls to discourage junkies from finding their veins. The drawings have bit of an aesthetic nod to those days. They’re abstract and perfect for UV light as they’re all vibrant colours set against deep black swaths. Maybe a bit redolent of psychedelic paintings on velvet, which I think Francesca picked up on.

DD: The relationship between light and dark / veiling and unveiling are also featured. What benefits do you draw from these conflicting ideas?
Scott Treleaven:
These drawings are all about techniques of effacement and obscuring. They start off as figurative collages that are painted over. Veiled, if you like. And then I work to generate some kind of connection between the buried image and what appears on the surface. Using UV light and fluorescent paint just intensifies that whole process of reactivating, or alluding to, something that’s hidden under normal conditions. I’m talking forensics here, not just aesthetics.

DD: One of your pieces, 'Walking With Thee' includes a scene from the 1926 version of Faust that concerns the plight of an alchemist. How do you and your piece relate to the story?
Scott Treleaven:
The main component is a three-tiered "relaxation" fountain that I modified. It’s simple, almost schmaltzy, but great in the way that the water just seems to spring forth and disappear into nowhere. The fountain reminded me of an old picture I’ve had on my studio wall for years, a cascading procession of robed figures from Faust. The addition of the fluorescent liquid just gave it a alchemical/carnival/ghost train feeling under UV light that tied it all together really beautifully.

The Dark Cube, curated by Francesca Gavin is at the Palais de Tokyo from October 6 – 15 2012

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