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What happens if ... ?

An exhibition of experimental objects and actions by artists and designers from the UK, Switzerland, Hungary, Israel, and the USA. 

Simon Blackmore, Attila Csörgő, Jerome Harrington, Michael Kontopoulos, Material Beliefs, Ariel Schlesinger, Roman Signer, Thomas Thwaites, Bill Woodrow and Stuart Walker.


This exhibition is about experimentation and play. It brings together artists with long-established international reputations, alongside recent graduates. What they have in common is a mischievous curiousity about the world around us, and a do-it-yourself approach. They conduct witty low-tech experiments to uncover the enchantment hidden within everyday utilitarian objects. They play around with cause and effect, finding out what will happen if they subject familiar objects to unexpected treatments. They are speculators, investigators, sorcerers, and jokers. These cloth-capped alchemists use glowing wit to transform consumer detritus into golden rabbits.

These artists and designers create clownish situations and quirky objects in which physics and poetry collaborate to produce humourous and profound results. There are videos of carefree explosions, a chandelier made from a car door, a domestic toaster constructed from raw materials, a bicycle tyre which burns gas, and a cooperative inflatable.

Experiments involve direct experience through action, rather than passive acceptance and belief. This exhibition encourages us to question our surroundings, to test our assumptions about consumerism and recycling, and to ask what happens if ...?

These artists are all trying out something new. We invite you to join them.

Dates: 30 January – 3 April 2010

A series of Talks on Art and other events accompany this exhibition. The talks will take place on Tuesday 9 and 23 February and Tuesday 9 and 23 March. For more details visit the Talks on Art pages.

What happens if … you pick up a pencil? Find out at writing workshops inspired by the exhibition and run by Litfest.  More information

What happens if ...? is curated by Storey Gallery and presented in collaboration with the Experimentality programme of Lancaster University's Institute for Advanced Studies - a year-long exploration of ideas and practices of experimentation in science and technology, the arts, politics, popular culture and everyday life.