Edy Fung: God is in the details - still

Jane Hardy finds herself pondering the uncertainties of modern life after viewing artist Edy Fung's exhibition Is God Meditating: Still

Edy Fung's exhibition God is Meditating: Still runs at the Golden Thread Gallery until February 19.
Edy Fung's exhibition God is Meditating: Still runs at the Golden Thread Gallery until February 19.

WHEN does conceptual art crackle and when does it remain a clever doodle on the back of the envelope? This thought came to mind after viewing Edy Fung's intriguing, philosophical show at The Golden Thread Gallery.

Titled God Is Meditating: Still, which wins the prize for best use of a colon in an exhibition name, it tackles a big issue in a small space. That is, meaning in an unstable world.

As Fung, an LA-born artist who divides her time between Derry and Sweden, states, her piece is about the "uncertainty of the current time". Well, I can relate to that.

The installed objects are small scale. I liked the posh boxes that looked as if they might contain expensive make-up or unguents but in fact contain material relating to climate change as the artist references meteorological shifts as a possible metaphor for the state in which we find ourselves. So these containers are pretty but also concerning.

There are music stands with sheets showing different messages, including climatic hieroglyphics.

And the show is also interactive, so you can play and enjoy some of a range of musical compositions. Not quite the music of the spheres, rather something electronic and Fung writes electronic 'noise music' under the name Quantum Forum. One of her research interests is digital technology and our relationship with the technology that surrounds us.

There are other pieces, including a metal sextant which the spectator is invited to use. You can measure the distance between the horizon and the LED light. Or ponder the distance between us and a way of saving our home, planet Earth.

Yet the smallness of things slightly undercuts the big meaning. Size matters in art and it's significant that previous conceptual masters often writ their messages large.

The infamous and famous pile of bricks from the '60s (Equivalent VIII by Carl Andre) was sizable, with real bricks piled into a pleasing form.

Damien Hirst's groundbreaking shark in formaldehyde (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living) wasn't tiny either - a goldfish or carp wouldn't have worked the same way.

Also the God of Fung's title is quite often portrayed at above human size, from gigantic Buddhas in the Far East to great statues by Michelangelo in Rome.

Yet there is something haunting here, a whispered message about mutability.

:: God is Meditating: Still by Edy Fung runs at the Golden Thread Gallery, Great Patrick Street, Belfast until February 19. goldenthreadgallery.co.uk.