Monthly Archives: March 2015

Strange Attraction

Dear A, I’m attracted to you, and I don’t know why.

            Shall we be friends?

Artworks can write letters too, inasmuch as they reach out, make lines of contact with other artists, and forge an aesthetic of correspondence. In Strange Attraction, a group exhibition of six artists working in a variety of media at APT Gallery, curated by Emily Purser, that correspondence is curated and archived, as the works speak to one another through their shared preoccupations. Sometimes the works’ closeness can be found in the processes in which they have been made, or the materials that have been manipulated, and sometimes it is found in the works’ ideas, its postscripts and its messages.

Many of the artists gathered here are interested in biography, not as a mapped out narrative, but as an affective pool: a script to be rewritten and performed, as pliable as paper. And even when the life is not visible in the works’ imagery, it exists in the frenetic states of matter and experience that the work has endured.

The abject body is a marginal unclean thing, potentially transgressive in its borderline subversiveness. In Lana Locke’s work, the sculptor references this body, but fragments it, creating sculptural installations that suggest, or indeed perform, a loose and perverse corporeality. Heads float. Limbs are scattered about like twigs on the ground. Bloody sheets fall from flowers on plinths. Locke returns to APT Gallery having previously exhibited there in the Creekside Open 2013, where she won Paul Noble’s Selector’s Prize. Her works in Strange Attraction include the pictured sculpture, Bridal Piece III (2014). Locke says, ‘I am thrilled to return to APT Gallery to be part of this beautiful exhibition curated by Emily Purser. My own work in the show is very personal, and it is clear that all the artists have very different approaches. Yet as you walk around the exhibition, many subtle, organic underlying threads emerge between the artworks of the group and they seem to speak to each other. It is a haunting, strangely uplifting exhibition that I am proud to be a part of.’

This mode of identity performance is similarly found in Lady Lucy’s paintings, which draw on documentary and interview research, to create portraits of layered and collaged material, often incorporating art historical gestures and tropes. Defiantly appropriated, the self is rendered a composite artificial object.

Andrew Mania makes art akin to the obsessive habits of a collector, transcribing people and objects. In his work, the autobiographical is recast in small, coloured pencil drawings, and even smaller paintings: a public re-reading of the intimate. The blue eyes of a young boy gaze out from the canvas, affective and abject: it is a look of innocence, melancholy, desire and love.

In Vanessa Mitter’s paintings, the personal is also treated as a pliant material, a source of affect and investigation, but also of fiction and performance. Collage, paint and pigment find a way on to the canvas in ephemeral expressive gestures. There is an abject narrative at play – of lost childhood and drifting brides – but it is a narrative that wanders in and around the artifice of the material.

In Hannah Campion’s work, painting is made into a happening, and then an installation, as her worked on canvases are then reworked into ambiguous three-dimensional forms, which are strewn on the floor or pinned to the wall. The paper or canvas undergoes all kind of processes: it is crushed, trampled, nailed, repaired, collaged. It is an active, performative mode of painting, which is also a site-specific response to the surrounding space.

Eleanor Moreton is similarly interested in painting as performance. In her work, narrative is not so much read as experienced. She provides the protagonist and the prop, often drawing on her own personal histories; but with the medium and its application (part abstract, part figurative), comes an ambiguous appropriation of the primary material. As in the work of the other five artists, the raw is remoulded as an artistic event.

In Strange Attraction, the viewer will find six distinct but correspondent practices, whereby narratives relating to the bodily and the biographical are re-made in painting, sculpture and installation. In these intimate objects, the personal evades our grasp when the performance takes over.

The exhibition is at A.P.T Gallery, 20th March – 5 th April 2015, with a private view on 19th March, 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Curator’s panel discussion and SLAM (South London Art Map) last Fridays opening 27th March, 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

Gallery Opening Hours: 12.00-5.00pm, Thursday to Sunday

Bright Light Issue 2: Thinking the Substrate

Friday 27 March sees the launch of issue 2 of CCW Graduate School’s journal Bright Light. The Bright Light series focuses on the latest debates in the arts and design and provides a way of seeing how practitioners are taking fresh perspectives on key questions facing designers, fine artists, lens-based media practitioners, curators, archivists and critical theorists. The Bright Light series is edited by Dr David Dibosa, CCW Senior Research Fellow and Course Leader of the MA in Curating and Collections at Chelsea, and each issue is guest edited by a member of CCW staff. In each publication themes such as the environment and technology, as well as socially-engaged practices and identity are looked at through the lens of current arts and design practice.

The first issue, Implicit Geographies, launched in summer 2014 and focused on a range of collections; private or public, professional or amateur and looked at the relations between places that objects suggest.

The second issue, Thinking the Substrate, edited by Dr Daniel Sturgis, is dedicated to the idea of the substrate. The publication stemmed from a series of three symposia hosted by CCW Graduate School and held in the Green Room at Chelsea College of Arts. Over the spring term in 2014, Professor Stephen Farthing, Professor Chris Wainwright and Dr Daniel Sturgis invited artists, academics and students from across the University, together with outside guests, to think about what a substrate could be and if the substrate might be an interesting way to speak cross-disciplinarily about practice.

Thinking the Substrate presents some of the discoveries from these symposia. Sturgis, together with Dibosa, asked participants from each of the sessions to either develop their papers or re-present them in a written form; not everyone who contributed to the sessions or discussions were included, which in some sense is a pity, but space was limited and there was also a desire to show divergent approaches. The one thing that everyone who attended the symposia discovered, as the reader does, is what a slippery fish the idea of substrate is. How can it mean very different things to different people – but remarkably within that breadth the substrate somehow still retains a base that links its various interpretations? It is this base that is so intriguing.

Thinking the Substrate features articles by Simon Morley (Dankook University), Neil Cummings (CCW), Adrian Glew (Tate Britain), Richard Layzell (WCA), Daniel Sturgis (CCW), Pia Gottschaller (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Jo Melvin (CCW).

The launch will take place from 5 – 7pm on Friday 27th March at Camberwell Space gallery, Camberwell College of Arts.

Cultures of Resilience

Cultures of Resilience (CoR) are the interwoven narratives, ideas, meaningful products and performances that, together, create the cultural fabric of an emerging society: a resilient society capable of facing and navigating the turbulence of our time, learning from experience how to thrive best. Resilience, when referred to in socio-technical systems, means a system’s capacity to cope with stress and failures without collapsing and, more importantly, the ability to learn from the experience. Therefore, it should be considered a fundamental characteristic for any potential future society.

The Cultures of Resilience Project is a two years UAL-wide initiative, the goal of which is to build a ‘multiple vision’ on the cultural side of resilience by putting together a set of narratives, values and ideas that are coherent in that they are all based on resilient systems, but in many other aspects they are very diverse. A multiplicity of images that, like the stones of a mosaic, may generate a larger one: a mobile, dynamic, colourful vision of a resilient, sustainable civilization. During UAL’s Research Fortnight (16-27 March), Cultures of Resilience will be holding a four day programme of events from 24-27 March.

CCW is contributing to Cultures of Resilience with Tracing Networks of Evaluation, led by research staff members Neil Cummings, David Cross and Marsha Bradfield. Discussing the work, Cross said, ‘We have enabled the values of competitive markets to dominate contemporary cultural production, we inhabit a mono-culture of evaluation, and this is not resilient. Taking our model from resilient ecosystems – where bio-diversity is essential for their reproduction- we intend to explore different, varied, even conflictual evaluative communities. For the week-long festival, we intend to exhibit a fragment of our ongoing research. Taking the University as an exemplar, we are mapping/tracing of some of its evaluative communities. These include student/staff numbers and composition, our financial entanglements, our stated aspirations, and our energy procurement. These tracings are enabling us to visualise evaluative networks, and assess their resilience. We would also like to run some live mapping/tracing workshops, to research in-real-time, and share the results of that research.’ Tracing Networks of Evaluation will be on Tuesday 24 March from 10am-1pm.

Cultures of Resilience is being led by Professor Ezio Manzini, UAL Chair of Design for Social Innovation.

CoR timetable

CoR Facebook page

CoR Exchange event on Facebook

Twitter: @CoResilience#CoR_Exchange

Top image by: Marsha Bradfield

Just for the Day

Just for the Day is a presentation of drawings at The National Gallery by nine students studying on the MA Drawing course at Wimbledon College of Arts. The students are a diverse group originating from different countries such as the UK, India, China, Hong Kong, Portugal and Gibraltar and are from the varied previous practices of graphic design, publishing, fine art and watercolour painting.

Supported by Colin Wiggins, head curator of The National Gallery, their works have been made in response to their individual reflections in The National Gallery. Working across a diverse range of media, they have responded to either particular works in the collection, or to the galleries and environment of The National Gallery itself, and collectively demonstrate the impact of direct encounters with art of the past, on art of the future. They are making a wide range of references to the iconic great works inside the gallery such as Rubens, Reynolds, Titian and Degas, to the unnoticed tiled mosaic floors and the chatter of passers-by outside The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.

“We are very privileged as students to have this exciting opportunity and to be presenting our work alongside the Great Masters, in one of London’s most prestigious galleries. Having individual tutorials with Colin Wiggins where we discussed the work that we will be displaying has been inspirational and an experience I would not have wanted to miss,” explained student Georgina Talfana.

The presentation will be open to public viewing from 10am – 7.30pm in the Drawing Studio, situated on Level 1 of the Sainsbury Wing in The National Gallery on Friday 20th March 2015.

Victorian Futures: Culture, Democracy and the State on the Road to Olympicopolis

On 14 and 15 May 2015 CCW Graduate School, School of Art and Design Middlesex University and the Victoria and Albert Museum will be collaborating on the conference Victorian Futures: Culture, Democracy and the State on the Road to Olympicopolis, held in the Edwardian Rooms at Chelsea College of Arts.

Speaking as one of the conference organisers, Malcolm Quinn, Associate Dean of Research and Director of CCW Graduate School, said, ‘On 29 January 2015, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, delivered the Sackler Lecture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of a series of lectures given in honour of Henry Cole, the founder of the V&A.  In his speech, the Mayor referred to the proposed development of “Olympicopolis”, an arts, education, science and technology quarter in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as part of the legacy of the 2012 Olympics. University of the Arts London, the V&A and other partners are included in the proposed Olympicopolis development. The word Olympicopolis combines the Olympic Park with a historical reference to “Albertopolis”, the cluster of cultural and academic institutions in South Kensington that was established on a site purchased with the profits of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Prince Albert was the patron of the Great Exhibition and Henry Cole led on its organization and management. Following the success of the Great Exhibition, Cole was asked to “Direct the Art of the Country” as the head of the government Department of Practical Art.

Victorian Futures: Culture, Democracy and the State on the Road to Olympicopolis will examine the intellectual history of the Olympicopolis project, from 1832 to the present and beyond. This conference has been developed by myself, Anne Massey, Professor in Design at Middlesex University and Professor Bill Sherman, Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  My own work on this conference has been developed from research that engages with ideas that were foundational for state funded art education in England – utility, taste, wellbeing, cultural prejudice and social equity.  The conference brings together the heads of major UK arts institutions, national cultural leaders, curators, arts practitioners and arts policy makers with academics and doctoral students in art and design. It will begin by examining the national programmes for the elevation of taste and “the education of the eyes of the people” that immediately preceded the Victorian era, following the Reform Act of 1832.  This first “Victorian Future” was being mapped out by political and aesthetic reformers before Queen Victoria came to the throne on 1837.  It was further developed in Albertopolis after 1851 and it was re-imagined again a century later in the Festival of Britain 1951, when a retrospective modernity was combined with an interest in Victorian popular culture.  What were the origins of this dream of public culture and public access? Do contemporary re-imaginings of Victorian Futures connect with the pre-Victorian dream of cultural democracy? The relationship of the as yet unbuilt Olympicopolis to the still unfinished dream of Albertopolis is a strange one; they are linked iterations of a Victorian Future, which used the political landscaping of art, design, culture and industry in Britain in the service of a new settlement between the arts and the state. The Royal Festival Hall is part of the legacy of The Festival of Britain and the V&A, Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the Albert Memorial are familiar landmarks of the topography of Albertopolis, but the history of the ideas and the new ways of thinking about art, design and the state that brought these institutions into being are less well-known.  One of the main aims of our conference is to examine the deeper history of a changed relationship between the arts and the state that is being revisited on the Olympicopolis site. Henry Cole referred to this deeper history when he was made head of the Department of Practical Art: “The Department of Practical Art was formed in February 1852, for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of the Schools of Design which had been established in 1837, upon the recommendation of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, appointed in 1835.”

The Select Committee that Cole was referring to was the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures of 1835/6, which, following the Reform Act of 1832, sought to survey and grasp the landscape of the arts, art institutions and art education in Britain and across Europe, with the aim of reconfiguring the relationship of art and the state.  The work of this Select Committee is a “source code” for the journey from the Reform Bill to Olympicopolis. Some writers have said that the work of the Select Committee, which often seemed to be groping in the dark with matters of art and culture beyond its ken, constantly provokes the question as to who was competent to make judgements concerning the arts on a national scale. I think that it is actually more important to ask how it is that the question, who is competent to judge the arts on a national scale, came to be asked at all.  For the radicals on the Committee, the introduction of “the people” or “the public” into thinking about art, design and culture put the question of competency in doubt; their claim was that the people could not rely on the institutions of art and culture as they were constituted at that time. With this question in mind, the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures established the first state funded art school in England, the School of Design, in the first year of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837. It is important to emphasise that what creates this new dialogue between art and the state is not so much the certainty of political reason, but a moment of doubt about the meaning of aesthetic competency within a democracy. William Ewart thought that these doubts could only begin to be addressed by a national programme of art education, the “opening of all the means by which a knowledge of the Arts was to be acquired”.

Victorian Futures begins by looking back at the middle class, anti-aristocratic radicalism of Ewart and his colleagues in the 1830s and its relationship to the work of Henry Cole and the Great Exhibition.  The next section of the conference addresses the Great Exhibition in 1851 in the light of the “Victorian Future” of the Festival of Britain in 1951.  The final section of the conference has the broadest historical sweep, examining the journey from 1832 to Olympicopolis in the light of the current relationship between the arts and the state.’

Book your place at the conference here.

Image: McNeven, J., The transept from the Grand Entrance, Souvenir of the Great Exhibition , William Simpson (lithographer), Ackermann & Co. (publisher), 1851, V&A

The Research Hub and The Hydra

This year’s CCW first year research students exhibition is The Research Hub, a collective that will be held at the Cookhouse Gallery at Chelsea from 23-27 March.  There will be a series of events that engages with the multiple facets and diversities that range between the broad subject matters and modes of research as well as The Hydra publication. The gallery will be divided into four rooms; the Office, the practice presentation room, the function room and The Hydra display.

The cohort has taken inspiration from the original Hydra Magazine published in 1917. The original publication is from the Craiglockhart War Hospital, written by recovering soldiers to keep other patients and the community informed about the happenings around Craiglockhart.

Map by the first year cohort

Map by the first year cohort

In the true nature of research, there will be a draft publication of our version of The Hydra as a printed programme. The programme itself is a work in progress that will be added to and evolve during the week; it will reflect the events and contributions from speakers and other participants. This will be published after the event as the Cohort Hydra, Research Hub documentation.

The Office will be occupied by one or more current research students working on their research in situ, whatever form that may take- reading, writing, drawing, etc.

The Practice Presentation Room will host experimental work. An event will happen on Tuesday 24 March for which research students have been invited to give short, informal presentations on their work. Sharing the work is part of the research process, an evolution in itself, to ‘practice’ talking about complex ideas that often take the form of art work, film or theory. This opportunity is to build the research community within UAL and to give a platform for people to exchange and discover.

The Function Room will host different, led discussion and guest speakers. We hope to create an atmosphere conducive to informal social events that allows conversation to happen.

The Hydra itself is known as a mythical beast that had multiple heads. When one head was chopped off another would grow in it’s place. As a group we decided the best way to reflect our research community was to embrace the research process in common themes that effect our individual practices and the chaotic dynamic that happens while investigating a subject, concept or proposed theory. Much like a beast, uncertainty, surprising outcomes, risk and possible failure daunt the unbeaten path of such an undertaking as research. The students organising The Research Hub are Fangyu Cheng, Denise Clarke, Alice Evans, Robert Gadie, Penny Georgiou, Jennifer Murray, Stephanie Spindler, Maria Theodoraki and James Lander and those who wish to remain anonymous.

Covenant_blog_image

Practice Presentation collage by Stephanie Spindler

 

The full programme of events is as follows:

-Monday 23rdopen from 4pm onwards: Opening night drinks reception; Fangyu Cheng and Alice Evans will be giving a practice presentation called ‘Disobedient Objects’; Stephanie Spindler will also be presenting some new work; and the Office of Public Ritual will be performing a ritual.

-Tuesday 24th2 til 5pm: A selection of PhD students will be giving informal practice presentations, and leading discussion;

5pm onwards: UAL Senior Lecturer Dave Beech will be leading a talk.

Drinks reception following talk.

-Wednesday 25th6 til 8pm: James Lander will be presenting: SHOWREAL: moving images from the Balfron Tower/Rowlett Street Archives. This event will be hosted in the Lecture Theatre.

-Thursday 26th11 til 1pm: Dr. Stephen Wilson and the 1st year CCW PhD students will be chairing a discussion leading on from the series of lectures held at the ICA titled ‘Where Theory Belongs’;

3pm onwards: the Riotous Cities group J. Y’Barbo, L. Locke, K. Hye Lee, F. Peschier, M. Namazi, will be hosting a discussion about their Riotous Cities project, and their upcoming Art Riot project.

Drinks reception following discussion.

-Friday 27thOffice room and HYDRA room will be open.

 

Top image: Hydra doodle by Robert Gadie

The Art of Surgical Practice

CCW PhD student Jenny Wright is giving a talk with her clinical supervisor Neil Shah on ‘The Art of Surgical Practice’ as part of the War Requiem and Aftermath events at Somerset House on 19 May at 5pm.

Wright is an artist whose work involves collaborative practice with surgeons, medical students and scientists. She is studying the haptic nature of drawing and medical practice and collaborates with Neil Shah, Senior Fellow of the Head and Neck Optical Diagnostics and Intervention Society. Mr Shah is a consultant oral & maxillofacial surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, and his research interests include the relationship between art, anatomy and surgery.

pencil drawing of a tumour removed from a neck showing incision marks, 12 x 12 cm, Jenny Wright

pencil drawing of a tumour removed from a neck showing incision marks, 12 x 12 cm, Jenny Wright

Discussing her contribution to the talk, Wright said, ‘I have been researching drawing practices with surgeons for some years, initially for an MA and now for a PhD at CCW. As part of my research I have been working closely with maxillofacial, dental and ophthalmic surgeons, and I found that drawing is a common practise for rehearsal, preparation and record keeping in all these surgical specialties.

From making drawings during operations and many discussions with surgeons I became interested in finding ways in which drawing and surgical practices could be integrated to develop and support key skills useful in extending areas of medical education, as well as be part of my fine art practice. Mr Neil Shah is a consultant maxillofacial surgeon who first trained as a dentist. It was through him that I was introduced to the work of dental surgeons at Kings College. Kings College Dental Institute combines practical clinical training with a virtual learning system called hapTEL, which I was allowed to integrate into some of my research.

Wright 3

Studio work analysis of movements made by surgeon, suturing sumi ink on paper, 45 x 55 cm, Jenny Wright

 

As part of the cultural events around Maggi Hambling: War Requiem and Aftermath, Mr Shah and I were invited to give a talk about the dialogue we have developed using drawing as a research and educational tool with particular reference to facial reconstruction. We will be discussing how drawings can be used and made in theatre. I will be showing some of the images I made of head and neck operations that record surgical interventions. These will include common surgical practices used in removal of tumours and reconstruction of facial features.

Although the talk is primarily aimed at medics, due to the nature of some of the images that may be shown, this is a great opportunity to continue and develop work across disciplines and between research departments in different Universities.’

As the Gordon Museum is not open to the general public, access to this event is restricted to certain groups on production of an appropriate ID card, which includes Medical Public (ie the suitably qualified or those in training). Full details can be found here. If unsure, please contact [email protected]. This is a special opportunity to join experts in the fields of surgery and art in the unique setting of the Gordon Museum of Pathology at King’s, to include a guided tour of this extraordinary collection from Museum Curator Bill Edwards.

Top image: from theatre sketchbook analysis of scalpel marks on neck made during op on carotid tumour, pencil on paper, 12 x 15 cm, Jenny Wright

Bay Watch

Locws International is pleased to announce five new temporary public art commissions for Art Across The City 2015 for their 15thanniversary. In that time they have commissioned over 100 established and emerging local and international artists to make new work in Swansea. For 2015, they have five new commissions from artists, including Colin Priest’s Bay Watch, celebrating the vast sky and heritage along Swansea Bay. Coinciding with the centenary of The Slip Bridge, Priest has created an archive, made a silent film and commissioned a limited edition Slip Bridge Summer Sundae with Joe’s Ice Cream, on sale in their Mumbles and Swansea parlours.

Talking about the work, Priest said, ‘With a background in architecture, my work is largely site-specific and frames a space to consider various forms of narrative around urban and environmental change. Through drawing, writing, film, curation, installation and performance my practice centres on strengthening the value of intangible landscapes. [Bay Watch] is the conclusion to around two-years of conversations, visits to Swansea Bay and an archival investigation into the life of the foreshore. [During] early visits, back in 2013, I was struck by the skies, the topography and the punctuation of civic architectures found along the promenade – notably the Slip Bridge. Investigating since, with the patient help of the West-Glamorgan Archive Service, the narratives around the transformation of the foreshore are considerable and physically chart the city’s active relationship to the sea. For Art Across the City, the work is an invitation to watch the bay and is a composition of encounters and framed opportunities to see this vital landscape through film, archive material, text, ice cream, talks and invitations.

Whenever we say “I’m from …” we expose our fragile relationship to space and time and importantly how our identity is inextricably tied to a place. So when and how this context shifts, it affects us personally and offers a space to reconcile our shared expression of each other’s memories. Working with Joe’s Ice Cream in the creation of the limited edition, Slip Bridge Summer Sundae, for me captures the spirit and intention of the work. As it combines thoughts around the history of a found recipe, it’s making and context, how it tastes and the transformation of the recipe to construct a sensitivity and shared awareness to the past, present and future – all in a passing moment. Through collated ephemera, archive material from the West-Glamorgan Archive Service and buildings the breadth and physicality of memories composite.’

Other artists participating are Michael Stumpf, Graham Dolphin, Emily Speed and David Cushway. A diverse range of workshops, events and outreach activity, along with 11 permanent commissions further support the programme including Jeremy Deller, DJ Roberts, Mark Folds; Pete Fowler, Bedwyr Williams, Sinta Tantra, Sean Puleston, Rik Bennet, Bermingham & Robinson and Niamh McCann.

Art Across The City 2015 will launch on 21st March with an informal opening reception at their Info Hub in the Quadrant Shopping Centre at 3pm. It runs until 1 June. Colin Priest is the Course Leader for BA Interior Spatial Design at Chelsea.

Image: Bay Watch (2015) by Colin Priest

Projection/Expulsion: Strategies of Beholding

CCW Graduate School presents Projection/Expulsion: Strategies of Beholding, a one-day symposium at Chelsea College of Arts, organised by Ken Wilder, Course Director for MA Interior Spatial Design at Chelsea.

Speaking about the event, Wilder said, ‘The intention behind the event is not to achieve a consensus, but to open up a debate as to the dynamic at play between these two terms. The terms, respectively, have psychological and bodily implications: the former suggesting (i) an unconscious transfer of desires or emotions onto someone else (or something else), or (ii) an intentional imaginative projection onto the world; the latter, contrarily, suggesting something being forced out of or discharged from the body (or thing). Both therefore, intrinsically describe an action with spatial consequences, a transferal, a ‘throwing forth’, yet they imply opposed trajectories.

These trajectories seem to capture something vital of our encounter with certain artworks: works that either invite imaginative or empathic projection, or alternately maintain a certain, necessary, distance (perhaps even provoking disgust or repulsion). The contention is that this is a dynamic that can be operative within works of a single artist and even (crucially) a single work of art. My own concern is with artworks where such complex processes of projection and expulsion are held in a dialectical tension. More particularly, my research investigates moving image artworks that reveal this structuring mechanism at play – what I have called elsewhere the configurational encounter. The configurational properties of a film are intrinsic properties of a work’s production and situated reception. Narrative absorption in conventional cinema is predicated upon the disregard of such properties, a temporary forgetting that we are watching actors on an artificially lit set: by contrast, experimental or expanded film consistently draws our attention to the film’s materiality, the screen as object, and to the apparatus of display.

My contribution to the exhibition is a video installation entitled Pondskater. A pondskater is an insect of the family Gerridae, which uses surface tension to walk, or more accurately, skate over ponds and other bodies of still water. In the three screen video installation, these creatures periodically skate across one or other of the  camera lenses. But the term also refers to the improvised filming device used to generate the films, which itself skates over the water. This device, a kind of adjusted readymade, is made using found materials. There are a series of rules to the filming. The three cameras, mounted at the ends of aluminium tubes, are fixed at 120 degree angles to each other, facing outwards and thus providing a full 360 degree panorama (each lens having a 120 degree field of vision). However, the distance between the cameras opens up small slots or gaps between the images. The camera position is itself subject to an element of chance, a matter of millimetres determining whether the centreline of the lens is slightly above or below the water level. The divergent angles of the horizon lines become part of the work’s idiosyncratic and imperfect nature.

The device is entirely dependent upon its own propulsion, provided by the impromptu sail. Like a child’s toy sailing boat, the device is launched with a little push, then left to the whims of the wind, slowly drifting across the pond until it finally gets entangled within the reeds that line the perimeter of the pond. The device is “launched” at three different times of the day – dawn, midday and dusk. The length of each take is dependent upon the time it takes the device to float across the pond, to become marooned in the reeds, and subsequently retrieved. This process is revealed in sound and image in the films. The mechanism itself is never seen, but is intimated, intermittently, by the drumming sound of string on the “mast” when the wind blows, and the dragging of the floats as the structure hits land.

If these configurational features partly determine the film’s content, then they also replicated by the means by which the films are displayed. This comprises three wide-screen 1:3 ratio rear-projection screens, set at 120 degree angles to each other so that they form an equilateral triangle with truncated ends at which the projector housings are placed. The steel structure replicates, but inverts, the fragmented panorama, forcing the beholder to circumnavigate the metal structure to experience something of its 360 degree view. This arrangement means that only one of the time-aligned films can be experienced in its entirety, so that one is always effectively excluded from the theoretical ideal viewing position within the structure, our experience necessarily fragmentary. Even peering into the structure frustrates our desire for a truly immersive experience, as the angles prevent simultaneous viewing of the screens. The disembodied viewing position of the films, literally an undisturbed fish-eyed view of the world we can never truly experience in reality, is replicated by the frustrations the structure imposes as we try, and fail, to experience the work as a panoptic whole. This unity can only ever be experienced through our imaginative projection onto an object that continually repels our desire for a truly immersive spectacle.’

The private view of the exhibition will be on Friday 13 March from 6-8:30pm in the Triangle Space gallery at Chelsea.

The symposium will take place on Saturday 14 March. The full programme and booking form can be found here.

Image by Ken Wilder