The late 70s was a period of instability and uncertainty in the UK as Thatcher’s Conservative government saw a rapid rise in unemployment and de-industrialisation. Focusing on the generation that emerged amidst this background of public un-rest, Polytechnic was organised by Richard Grayson and Raven Row director Alex Sainsbury. Taking inspiration from the early 1980s Newcastle collaborative The Basement Group, this show includes everything from installations and poster art to VHS work. Featuring pieces from Ian Bourn, Susan Hiller, Stuart Marshall, Cordelia Swann and Graham Young, the gallery space highlights how new media’s accessibility challenged the capitalist practices of painting and sculpting. As new technologies developed, so too did their application as visual media grew beyond its mainstream state media province and gradually took on an artistic narrative. John Adam’s ‘Sensible Shoes’ (1983) sees an intricate tale unfold as image and text collide on screen to the backdrop of a female voice, recalling a love affair. Sometimes the images seem to be in perfect harmony with the story, other times they invoke a response but always seem to inform our understanding of this intimate claustrophobic scene. Roberta Graham’s ‘Campo Santo’ (1981) work is a more sinister observation of gender power plays and abjection that explores the misogyny and brutality surrounding Peter Sutcliffe, ‘The Yorkshire Ripper.’ Scattering photographs of sites where the bodies were found in amongst out newspaper cuttings and detritus, the entire room is filled with an overwhelming soundtrack of late night club music and gloomy, stentorian voices preaching from Flannery O’Conner’s novel ‘Wise Blood.’ Every room is a disorientating cacophony of noise, as loud recordings ring out against ambient sounds and over snugly fit headphones whilst nuances of nostalgia envelope the space. Susan Hiller’s piece deals most directly with humanity, time, immortality and memory as the array of fuzzy, monochromatic works earnestly convey socio political commentary that is as relevant for the heightened tensions of today’s society as it was for the rapidly expanding world of the 70s and 80s. The exhibition runs from September 9th to November 7th 2010 http://www.ravenrow.org/current/polytechnic/