My current practice follows two parallel tracks that result in two distinct kinds of work. In both, the camera is my originating tool.
1. I produce closely observed pictures of the world around me, with the maximum of concentrated attention and minimal digital manipulation. As I assume that artists have done from the beginning, I seek to engender a direct, subconscious, emotional response with my images, aspiring to provoke in the viewer feelings of recognition: “I am in this. This is in me.”
2. I work with performers to create mises en scene for the camera. Through these visual constructs I aim to address specific themes with the allusiveness and elusiveness of poetry or dance. In a recent exhibition the frozen images I produced were projected onto a gallery wall in an unfolding sequence. The projection was accompanied by large-format prints, in which their stillness was emphasised by the not-quite moving images of the projection.
My photography, film and artworks have been shown in many major international venues, These include the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), The Tate (London), National Film Theatre (London), Museum of Modern Art (Oxford), Ikon Gallery (Birmingham), Old Vic Theatre (Bristol), Orchard Gallery (Edinburgh), Metropolitan Museum (New York), Museum of Broadcasting (New York), Whitney Museum (New York), the Pompidou Centre (Paris), Garage Bonci (Pietrasanta,Toscana).
The multiscreen video installation WINDSCAPES was presented as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in a 360 degree immersive arena - and also on Big Screens on the beach at the sailing venue, in juxtaposition with the poetry of Alice Oswald.
Learning from the Chinese
In the China of a thousand years ago an artist, poet, scholar and government official could often be one and the same person. Members of this intellectual elite saw humankind and the universe it inhabits as one, governed by the same forces, the same physical and moral laws. That is one important reason why their painting and poetry immersed both the subject and the viewer/reader so deeply into the world that they described.
The Chinese artist scholars called their philosophy the Tao - the Way. And this Way was followed by all levels of society, often as ritual and religion. Today we call our presiding philosophy Science. Quantum physics, genetics, biochemistry, evolutionary theory - each of these reinforces the understanding that humans cannot stand apart, and certainly not aloof from nature. We cannot break the laws of science and, if we try to do so, the laws of science will break us - hence the accumulating global crises we face each day. To some of us, modern science and the Tao seem compatible with each other. They make the sound of two hands clapping, resounding in a world that is so heavily abused by hubris, greed and shortsightedness.
As well as embracing their philosophy, I am borrowing certain techniques of presentation from the dynastic Chinese. Their scroll paintings could be viewed as an extended visual narrative, placed on a wall like an early pre-figuration of the cinema screen. But often they were kept rolled and placed on a table. As the viewer unrolled the scroll -revealing segments, piece by piece- the images it carried would emerge, gradually, intimately, privately.
In FLOW I am adopting the scroll technique, using a contemporary aesthetic. Scrolls on the wall invite the viewer to take a walk along the picture plane, pausing as if in nature, to gaze at and contemplate certain details before moving on. And, if the viewer chooses to stand back, she can take in the whole scene, as she might take in a landscape. She can also view a scroll on a table, in a concentrated and contained experience, akin to looking at a book. Perhaps it offers an experience even more tactile and personal than reading a book. It seems to me that such an individual, physical way of perceiving an image becomes even more valuable to us as digital screens become the dominant way of consuming pictures and words.