Context, direction, and reflection.
Today we are saturated in material, images, artefact.
I am a collector and a collagist of ephemera, sights and experiences and the internet for me is an endless repository of material. My video work is often comprised of found and appropriated images arranged into a digital collage. The quality of the material I find and use is variable and this is what like about it, when I order this material there is no hierarchy, all image qualities are treated equally because there is a richness within this material that transcends prejudice and accepted aesthetic norms.
Aside from this material’s aesthetic quality I’m intrigued by the fact that all of it is the same, in that it is virtual, it’s not even material in the traditional sense. It is presented to us on a screen as light, in a matrix of pixels. Like print before it and TV, all screen-based material is flattened and homogenised, this is interesting because it makes me question authenticity, if everything is the same–of the same stuff, then what is there to differentiate it? A Coronation street video can sit next to one showing the bombing of Afghanistan and no one questions it, it’s just like a beauty ad following a news report of terror. Or a Facebook live video streaming the death of a man can sit next to one broadcast by a bored teenager in their bedroom.
The tangential nature of the web provides infinite possibilities for content and has enabled me to develop strategies for producing work that is vibrant, exciting, and disturbing.
My work is generally process and research driven and often the end-result is not my goal. I start a project with the aim of learning or discovering something previously unknown.
My work is a journey, or an adventure, and is often driven by aleatory. As always, the challenge is to pull this material together in a compelling way, and each time I produce a work the method and the form has evolved from previous work. I see my work very much as a continuum; each work flows on from the next, picks up where the previous left off, or revisits concepts and ideas that have been touched on before.
Through my work, I question traditionally held perceptions of what art should or can be.
I am very interested in using non-traditional methods to create. So, for my past few projects I’ve been using ubiquitous tools that are not perceived as conventional artist’s tools, for example Google and the internet, Microsoft excel and PowerPoint and now I am also beginning to explore new ways of showing and distributing the work. This is something I hope to pursue further next semester.
I do however still find it difficult to accept working digitally, and it is always a struggle for me. The intangibility of the process and the material is problematic. Trackpads, mice, keyboards, software interfaces, and virtual tools all distance me physically and mentally from the making of the work. But this distance inevitably becomes part of the work and I am interested in using methods that reference this relationship to technology, detachment and de-authoring.
My strategy for a while now has been to collaborate with Google. I set parameters and use the search engine and its various tools to decide how the project will develop. So, with the help of Google, I build algorithms in the development stage of a project to both aid in research and to generate content, and sometimes even the form. It is a reciprocal relationship that is always in flux. I like the limits, I like that the tool is always changing, getting smarter, and now as Google deploys more AI tools in the background, like voice and image recognition, the process and the projects just keep getting better.
ENJOY! The beginning.
The video of the aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile in 2016, streamed live to Facebook by his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds was a turning point for the utopian dream of Silicon Valley technologists. But there was something else lurking between the terror and sorrow of the 9 minutes of this video that captivated me. As the police officer detained the innocent woman he removed the phone she was using to record the incident from her hand and tossed it onto the lawn beside the road where minutes ago they were pulled over by her boyfriend’s killer. By a fortuitous flip the now uncontrolled phone streamed a seemingly static image of a blue sky, crisscrossed by the wires of a telegraph pole.
The image betrayed the event that was unfolding off camera, unseen.
This beautiful blue summer sky and the device recording and streaming it live to anyone who happened to be watching on Facebook were indifferent to the human suffering that only we viewers could fathom. The audio for this 2 minutes of blue sky is harrowing. First, we hear Reynolds ask the officer why she is being arrested, then she speaks to us “they threw my phone Facebook”, she declares to an unknown and disembodied audience. For the remaining minute, we hear the woman pleading, hoping and praying to God that her boyfriend has not been taken from her. All the while we the viewer are looking into the motionless void of this blue sky. This dual indifference of nature and technology was the catalyst for this work.
Anxiety, anticipation, chaos, confusion, cohesion, humour, respite, relentlessness, boredom. All of these Emotions and sensations are present in this work.
Recent and current news events clash with personal contexts, histories, anxieties, and dreams. The absurd, the spectacle and the artificial all compete for attention before abruptly vanishing, or are interrupted by the omnipresence of these disembodied voices.
My aim is to display this work as a very large immersive projection. To see this work larger than life on the big screen is mesmerising, we lose control, we might feel assaulted, forced to watch, forced to follow the images around the screen. The manipulation and seduction by the image is escalated to an intensity where we become both bathed and trapped by blue.
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