Saturday, 20 September 2008

The constant exhibition

It’s saturday Morning and to give some perspective to my week: I installed an exhibition on Monday, previewed Portraits of the Tor on Tuesday and exhibits until tomorrow night, Wednesday I did a get-in to the Phoenix and thursday showed Dance Floor, Yesterday, Friday, I installed and showed Un Tempo Una Volta and then premiered The Unfurling. It has been intense. This afternoon I install Water Table which exhibits tonight. Audiences have been committed and engaged and I’ve been trying to detect and determine what of my work is working and why.

A few thoughts: When I toured In Other People’s Skins the remarks about the way people engaged with the work described them as a living Caravaggio. When shooting Un Tempo, Una Volta the reference was Canaletto and some one also mentioned Turner, when exhibiting this work the audience fell into a tableau Vivant reminiscent of Maxfield Parish at another moment the audience sat around the ‘well’ created for the piece and seemed to resemble the graces in Victorian painting, nymphs beside a pool with light bouncing up on them in a way reminiscent of Wright of Derby.

Portraits of the Tor drew references to Irving Penn (‘better than” in fact as it was shown and received as a ‘photographic’ piece in that instance, therefore the reference was photographic and also the person was a photographer), but that person had been to one exhibition and found the other exhibition and was moved by the work and the demonstration of individual lives. Powerful, engaging and mesmeric have been coming up as epithets to describe the work.

When the work shows people are clearly engaged and several are transfixed and tell later of being powerfully engaged and affected; one or two do not talk. I’m pretty sure that my work has passed a 50% barrier and works at percentages above that figure and sometimes maybe rises into the 90’s for effectiveness. My enquiry is about how to make work that doesn’t slip below this level so that it achieves the end goal of being a brand if you like that registers in the popular psyche. The use of resolution has proved to have been effective in that higher resolutions do actually promote higher engagement and I’ve even begun to allow myself to use other techniques that I originally disallowed myself. Music for instance is a delicate and difficult issue, yet this is a moving image and sound medium. I kept originally to whatever sound had been produced on the shoot and then if the work was slowed down, then so was the soundtrack producing the familiar drone at a low level of all slowed down images, so yesterday I allowed myself the use of Tabula Rasa by Arvo Part, that were he around, I would have asked him to write a piece and hopefully it would have done what that particular piece did, alchemically, when combined with my image conception of pointing the camera at the sky to feel the ubiquitousness of water that flows around Venice, without actually seeing it.

I am quietly excited about each piece individually now, because somehow the time and process has allowed each one to ferment or mature sufficiently to come to that point where my anxiety about each has been replaced by a simple act of decision of what to do to achieve completeness in the work (the thoughts would have bred in the unconscious for a long long time before). After all I have practiced this for many years and so it is an appropriate function of being an AHRC Creative Fellow, to draw out of me this work that is relevant and engaging.