March 2017

Briony Barr is a Melbourne-based conceptual artist working at the intersection of art and science. Her practice can be divided into two main branches. The first investigates individual and collaborative rule-based drawing, the second explores invisible, microscopic worlds as part of interdisciplinary collective, Scale Free Network. 

Exploring variations on a theme, ‘Forking Paths’ experiments with the rule of bifurcation (a separation into two or more branches) across different surfaces, mediums and scales. Like a simple genetic code, each drawing is built from the same compositional rule but evolves in different ways, depending on starting points and boundaries. Unlike a digitally-rendered rule or algorithm, Barr embraces error and inconsistency, according to the artist’s hand.

‘Forking Paths’ presents two approaches to rule-based drawing. Firstly, a series of drawings in which the artist has made individually in the studio. Secondly, a large collaborative drawing  – Tabula Rasa - which will evolve in the gallery space. Developed by Barr and Lauren Simmonds, this performative, rule-based work will be set up by the two artists, and continue on opening night in response to involvement from gallery-goers. Visitors will be invited to collaborate by contributing straight lines. 

Barr’s broader investigation of rule-based drawing is derived from her interest in emergence and pattern-formation in nature. Since 2012, she has run a series of collaborative drawing experiments involving large groups of people. Called ‘Drawing on Complexity’, these expanded artworks are made with PVC tape, with rules inspired by complex systems, designed in consultation with astrophysicist Andrew Melatos (University of Melbourne). Experiments have taken place at art museums, science institutions, civic art studios, schools and conferences both nationally and internationally.