2 fluorescent tubes, photographic filters, wooden frames, sound equipment. Size variable.
Exchange was in direct response to a submission to the artist-led contemporary arts venue, Vault Gallery, Lancaster, UK and it was an appropriate moment to develop a particular strand of work. The space was originally the vault of a bank and still included the safe. Its walls were therefore very thick and painted white with a heavy gate consisting of metal bars at its entrance. Ceiling and floor were also white. Limitations of opening hours meant that the space was not physically accessible unless invigilated but the work could be viewed and heard through the locked gate. Using these attributes whilst simultaneously developing my own art trajectory and research criteria, my aim was to make a light installation within the main space with a sound piece utilising the safe. The intention was to create an installation that reflected and subverted modern commercial life. This linked in with the work, Untitled (neon), where the light acted as a metonym for the non-place.
Fluorescent lights were mounted horizontally onto wooden frames and covered with pink and green photographic filters sub-dividing the space. These colours were reflected in the white surroundings and played on notions of the liminal, the sublime and border areas creating a place of disturbance. The work looked for an interchange of ideas that crossed boundaries physically, mentally and socially. It illustrated how edges meet and how light and sound distribute themselves within a space and encompass everything with no discrimination. The boundaries of each colour worked in different ways. Some flowed into one another for a limited space creating an area of disturbance where each colour could not be clearly defined and in other meetings, there was a reasonably clear cut join but a hinterland of low level disturbance where a dilution of the original colour was created. The transference of colour from one side to another within the light frames was unexpected. Between the two frames, an object next to the pink filter showed green and vice versa. Viewers individually created place and often this created a hyper place where their position was illuminated and interrupted the status quo. The safe echoed with the low whine that emits from fluorescent tubes when they are switched on. The sound, under normal circumstances, is unheard in everyday life due to its brevity and its quietness. Here, it was amplified to audibility and looped to provide a continuous soundtrack. It amply showed the difficulties of placing sound within gallery space where it cannot be contained and causes disturbances and interferences. It was found to be extremely irritating especially with the nature of the space. This, of course, was exactly the effect that was required by this piece.
Lightwave The sound was also made as a piece in its own right and exhibited at SoundFjord Sonic Art Jukebox, London in May 2010. Called Lightwave, it and was described as ‘This is a looped piece that explores the everyday sound of a fluorescent light being switched on. `
Bamboo, cable ties. 15m x 7m x 12m.
This work was part of The Hoard: An Insight into the Archaeology of the Artists Mind curated by Louise Ashcroft. It has been a year long project whereby artists use, firstly, an unused warehouse and then office space as studio space. I saw the initial project as one that reveals the objects that are collected in a studio for the purposes of projected artistic fantasies, of work that will not be completed or even made, except in the mind. It reveals in some ways failure, but in that failure, oppositions of the sense of decisiveness, of pragmatism and of journeys. These journeys are where an object fits in with the present, which is already past but that fact is unknown at that moment. The future has yet to begin so the journey that is the development of the artists’ practice is a rational projection of unknown ambition and knowledge.
The space is accessible for one day a month so, in effect, it was a thinking project. However, on the studio days, work was begun, altered, destroyed and tentacles created that reached out to other artists both physically or in response to their work.
Sky Towers was an attempt to utilise the space to its fullest limits as well as to challenge the construction methods and the material itself. The work appeared fragile but had an inherent stability that was learned from an earlier work Untitled Structure. The towers swayed and leaned but didn’t fall.
Fan, extension lead.
This work is also part of the Hoard project. Space is defined but exists both within and without those boundaries at the same time. Here, the fan creates a disturbance of the particles but also adds to them by the presence of the viewer. The traces of the presence of the viewer such as dust, hair, the exhalation of breath, remain in the space after the viewer has left and become mixed with the traces of other viewers as well as those created by the fabric of the building itself. The fan creates a disturbance of all these particles and minute traces thus altering the space.
Bamboo, glue, shelf, bamboo cane. 3m x 0.12m x 0.25m.
This location was almost the homecoming of the bamboo structure that has been re-created in, amongst other places, Venice under the Swiss Pavilion at the 2009 Biennale and Meriden (the supposed centre of England, image seen on home page). The structure aimed to be a guesswork model that indicated how it was constructed and its usage. It was also reconstructed to a 10th size (image on contact page) where the structure aligned to the landscape thus the uprights were of varying lengths to fit with the undulations of the earth.
In this image, the model is elevated to the position of a sculpture. It sits neatly on a shelf to be ‘looked up to’. The final reincarnation of this construction, however, has inadvertently become a fly graveyard. Dead flies continually litter the platform thus giving the work a function.
DVD looped, grey corridor with ramps.
Video installation of the floor of an old telephone box which I have been randomly and repeatedly photographing over the course of a year or more. The video is placed in the floor of a narrow grey corridor and can be walked on. It shows the passing shadows and sounds whilst the rumbles and roars from the traffic transmit their vibrations through the feet.
Found wood, nails. Size variable.
This work was created as part of the Tou Scene residency in Stavanger. It used the concept of balconies, part of the traditional architecture of the domestic buildings of Stavanger combined with the original beer storage halls which were part of the Tou Scene buildings. The creation of fragile wooden balconies traversed spaces from the entrance to the storage areas.
I was invited to participate in a live art performance whereby a work is created that corresponded to a chosen theme which is then performed over the same time period in different parts of the world. This was my contribution for the theme flaskepost or bottlemail.
The glass bottle was found lying in a mossy nest in Flørli , Norway where it had been dropped. It was carried to the top of the mountain and down again. The bottle held its message within itself, that of journeys, of carelessness, of time. From Flørli it was carried to Stavanger and, on Sunday at dusk, was taken to the Fiskepiren, the start of many journeys. There a breath was blown across its neck, the sound reaching out across the waves, the bottle calling for its home, for longing, for return. Its message will be heard by others, those who want to be heard, who want to be found. After the calling, the bottle was taken the bottle on my journey, to Amsterdam and then to England.
3 framed signatures, child’s suitcase with 3 black books in folio case on stool.
Chu Unoh was born due to handwriting recognition software malfunction. The signature is almost the only thing that Chu possesses. This is presented as a series of three framed autographs thus raising the fake personage to the cult of celebrity. However, the multiple presentation defies exclusivity, the value becoming tenuous. It also explores the obsessive nature of collecting and collectors, one is never enough! The notion that personality is revealed through handwriting is also raised. Is there anything to be revealed for a non-person? Even the personality is recycled by choosing attributes from lonely hearts columns that are shown in a series of small books placed in an otherwise empty suitcase. There are no ‘things’ to go in the case, the past is missing.
This work was undertaken in Stavanger, Norway in September 2010 as part of a residency at Tou Scene. Here I explored the initial physical and social aspects of the immediate surroundings followed by an exploration of its relevance to my research. This I describe as exploring notions of absence in the wider urban realm using the non-place as a starting point.
Leaning over the railings of the flyover, the Badedammen was laid out like a town map. Its numerous surfaces and edges were a tribute to the town-planning department. It was as if it was a giant play mat had just been unrolled and was waiting for a child to get the toy cars and boats out. This is, of course, exactly what it would be on a warm, summer day. As a landmark close to the city centre, the Badedammen featured as the start of a city exploratory walk. This guided walk, The Blue Promenade, existed only in the tourist brochure, a paragraph of text and a blue line on a map. Nothing on the ground identified places. The object of this ambulatory work was to relocate and dislocate through given parameters, that of the set route. The walk described various ‘objects’ or spaces that were deemed memorable although not always ascribed along the way.
The Badedammen was located beneath a flyover, there was an extra dimension. Indeed a support for the flyover was situated in the water itself providing an additional vertical play surface. The flyover could be described as a giant sunshade. In September it was cold and windy with frequent rain, only dog walkers utilised the surrounding grass.
This is an exert from my journal that becomes part documentation and part artwork.
‘I find the Badedammen beyond the supermarkets which compete with rival sets of flags and beneath the flyover. It has a beach with sand, a diving pontoon and a blue and yellow slide all areas demarked by different surfaces. High rises and wooden houses, the old fishing houses are reflected in the water. A t-shaped platform juts out slippy with rain. I should be able to see ‘beautiful views of the Ryfylke but the area is dominated by huge concrete silos and think that they are blocking my view.’
Push button lights, sticky pads.
This work was situated in the performing arts venue of MIC, Auckland, New Zealand. As a venue it was used mostly in the evenings with low light levels. Three pieces were installed, two in stairwells and one in the main area. The work used push button lights that could be altered at random so creating an interactive light installation. This image shows the larger work, Constellation, where lights appear accidentally placed but are actually in a rigid geometrical pattern but with two positions shifted to create the supposed randomness.
Softwood, red paint, screws. Size: 10m x 20m approx.
Grass is Greener conflates the language of the non-place and the language of the maze. The installation is constructed as one piece, each part dependent on another for stability, attached together to form a rambling arrangement of space and place. Each element can be entered or viewed from another part. However, place is only experiential, it reminds the viewer of town planning as well as places such as the enclosed and private London gardens that exist only for a privileged few and the narrow alleys that appear to disappear into nowhere.
The work creates both significance and insignificance within the gallery space; its open structure hardly disturbs existing viewpoints. It sits in the space, neither aligned neatly diagonally or up and down, its axis skewed, the four large ‘arches’ representative of points of compass but placed randomly not coinciding with the geographical reference points or the location of those points to equally spaced corners. It pertains to absence, it perceives a lack and a sense of what it is not and what it cannot be. It cannot be called liminal or sublime but it does have a suggestion that relates it to existing structures and ‘beyond’, beyond existing structures, beyond the experience of other architectural installations, both mentally and physically. It promises a journey but it can’t fulfil that promise. The viewer chooses the level of complicity but then collaborates to be implicit in its deception.
When the installation is entered everything changes. The outlook is then one of obstructions and disturbances. The posts and rails are reminiscent of border posts, state entry and exit points. The head-height barriers and low bars could belong to a children’s playground. Referencing play is not new, however, in this work it is not an intentional reference. It is created by the duality of the structure as much as by the colour. The scarlet colour is an identical shade to that used in the local pallet-makers identification marks placing the work in the industrial, commercial world rather than one that indicates play. This twin dichotomy of industry and play creates an ambiguity, a sense that it doesn’t quite belong anywhere, that it has no use for industry or play. It could also be said to belong firmly in the art world as its form and aesthetics situate it within the formal sculptural tradition.
Used cardboard, string. 2.4m x 0.25m x 0.05m
The Structures series of work attempts to understand building methods and function within the everyday landscape of Thailand and Laos. From sketchbook documentation where sketches were made of quickly glimpsed structures, Means to escape has an obvious function. It moves from function object to art object especially when displayed in such a fashion. However, made in cardboard, which was my material to hand as bamboo was the material to hand of the original, its function is retained only as a guide to the original.
The work is a video installation that designed to create an ambiguity between real and artifice. Is this a stage set or the real thing? It shows a room set for a meeting but there are no participants. The changing light and the occasional noise from outside the frame shows the passage of time. It explores the impact of space on power and authority but also the role boredom plays within this institutionalised space. Although this image is a still from the video a one minute clip of the 58 minute video, entitled Nothing Happens Here can be viewed at: Link to installation video clip.
The generic meeting room is designed for the mass market; it represents a coming together of commerce and design to create a purely functional setting. It is a place where ideas are meant to flow and big decisions are supposed to be made, where people of a single community interest come together to share their views. However, meeting rooms are of a homogeneity that would, at first glance, defy a creative flow, which provides an interesting dichotomy with the gallery space. Sophie Calle calls her work the ‘blending of artistic strategy into daily life’ and in this context, the meeting room is part of the everyday for a particular group of people.
Hand spun sheep’s wool, Perspex brackets.
This work uses ideas of territory and borders together with the notion of place and behaviour. Its aim is to use the concept of the eruv to create a new territory in the gallery/exhibition where the viewer, although unaware to a large extent of its existence, behaves as a viewer, that is, like any gallery attendee.
The territory is created by an eruv placed high on the gallery space walls. Made from sheep’s wool, which has been both collected and donated then hand spun into a single thread, it is almost invisible unless sought out. This is in keeping with the original intention of an eruv, which is placed to mark out territories in areas of Jewish population to allow the orthodox inhabitants to relax the strict laws that are applied to the Sabbath. Its importance lies in its function that relates to inclusion, exclusion and that it allows as well as prohibits and its secrecy. It marks a boundary or territory that is full of dichotomies, for example, it relaxes rather than enforces rules. Placing it within the gallery space comments on viewer behaviour within the space, how behaviour changes according to unwritten rules and peer pressure.
The work is threaded through clear Perspex hooks mounted on short brackets attached to the wall. However, this is a long running work in progress and whilst the original idea was to form a continuous boundary, it was recently broken during installation and this created a really interesting dichotomy of here and there. From here, this will be explored in greater depth.
Tennis balls, figures, brown spay paint. Series of 9, each 5 cms. x 4 cms.
Each piece is one half of a children’s tennis ball containing a narrative that alludes to an event just happened or which is about to happen. Whilst the narrative of each ball is individually valid, three halves make a chapter and the full series of nine make a novel.
Bamboo, wire, artist canvas, rope.
A canvas encloses the necessary items for making a small shelter. The contents are written on the inside of the canvas which is tied up with a rope. No instructions are enclosed just the list. The concept is that the shelter is constructed by an unknown person, be it curator or viewer and made to their specifications rather than the artist’s.
Paper boats. Performance with video and photographic documentation.
Shipping Lanes explores the ambiguity of official borders. The border of Thailand and Laos and Laos and Cambodia is the centre of the Mekong River and marked exactly in that position on the map,. The live installation piece, Shipping Lanes was documented by video and still photographs. It used paper from Thailand and Laos guidebooks of places already visited. From these pages, origami boats were created which were then launched as close to the centre of the river as was possible. This took place between Thailand and Laos, and Laos and Cambodia. The object of the work was to allow the boats to make their own way to either country according to flow of the river. The passage of the boat itself as well as other water traffic created different flows that influenced the final destination
7 A1 Images mounted on card. Wooden frames, brackets.
SpaceShifting uses images taken in existing galleries where the limitations of such photography extends to that of the building only, no artwork can be visible. Thus the images deliberately under-represent the galleries. Galleries include Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand; Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK; Fact, Liverpool, UK; Gagosian Gallery, London, UK; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia and Serpentine Gallery, London, UK. The resultant images are then mounted in relation to the new gallery space, such as aligning a pillar to an existing pillar. This work renegotiates the new space, creating a slippage between past and present, presence and absence. The mechanics of the installation, the wooden structure and metal brackets are deliberately exposed to make the images, its installation and the space in-between equally important and to create a multiple viewing perspective.
This project was an Empty Shops residency and exhibition in the city of Derby. It was undertaken as a collaboration between Veronica West and myself. It was supported by CCM Derby, Derby City Council, Cathedral Quarter and ArtsCouncil Lottery. The idea of 'folding' was used to create structures using paper and card within the space of the shop to explore both the space, the character of the building and the function of the shop. Large scale structures reflected, expanded or replicated the space constructed using traditional packaging materials such as cardboard, paper, tape and string. Illusionary space will also be created by the use of drawing directly on the walls to show how the structures work and to extend the structures into imaginary space. This work is a collaboration and will use the space creatively as both a development of practice and exhibition space.
This piece relates to Means to escape and uses existing boundaries to link different spaces. Again, its aim was to understand construction methods. The use of cardboard, especially used cardboard causes distortions and the finished pieces often twist and turn according to both building method and material.
DVD 4.32m looped sequence.
This work explores the in-between space, the moment between taking off and landing during the act of jumping on a mound of bubble wrap. Whilst the action is seemingly random and futile, performing the action on a stage of a large music venue (Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent) both aggrandizes and gives authority to the performance but, at the same time, reduces it to the minute emphasizing the place of body in society. There is often a delay between the landing on a bubble and its popping, this creates an ambiguity that belies the action, which jump causes the popping, which action the landing or the taking off (which releases the air within) causes the sound? The sound of the piece is echoed due to the large empty space but this also relates to the rapid motion of gunfire which is so prevalent in cities today. It is basically the sound of mini explosions caused by violent action although made in a purely passivist and joyful way.
This work consists of up to 200 images taken at random intervals of the same telephone box in Manchester, UK. The images were taken of each aspect from the inside thus documenting what happens between my visits and how the changes of graffiti, objects left react to the changes outside the box. For example, the beer can is immortalised with the passing bus in the permanent setting of the photograph.
Photographic lights, grey paint, dark space. Size variable.
This is the place where… aims to create a dialogue between place and non-place, reality and artifice and also the notion of ‘beyond’. The identity of the location is controlled and the lack of identity of the space infers an absence of narrative although realistically, as in most spaces, it is not an absence of narrative but an absence of conspicuous narrative. There is also an element of confinement and disorientation within the space that focuses attention on the pool of light and its attendant shadows. As the space is fairly enclosed, the lights make the space hot, giving a sensation beyond the visual. Photographic lights are normally used to artificially light a consumer product with the specific purpose of making it appealing either directly to the shopper or to the marketing department. The fact that these lights are set up for that purpose but are then thwarted by not having a subject exposes the whole system of advertising that creates false desires. There is the futility of purpose that privileges a nondescript section of floor whose significance is left for the viewer to decide. This piece also deals with the subjective self i.e. the subjective being transformed into object.
The circle of light works in a sculptural way. The viewer can enter the space but there is a natural barrier of the leads and stands. Physically there is a sense of stepping round the perimeter as if it were a physical object. It is also the case that if a viewer were to step inside the pool of light, the purpose of the light would be fulfilled. Whether it is necessary indeed desirable for the viewer to physically enter is debatable. If the viewer were to enter the work, as previously said, the purpose of the lights would be fulfilled; there is a marketable object. However, it then also becomes a performance piece for the viewer with the elements of popular television and takes away any notion of the ‘beyond’. There is a sense of playfulness in this idea of performance because it may be that something is about to happen in this spotlight, or has just happened that the viewer has just missed.
This privileging of a single point isolates and cancels out other references to its location. This relates to other non-places such as motorways where, at night, the lighting on a small section of homogenous road isolates that section within the beam of one’s own headlights creating a point of focus. This is almost an artificial reality, a real situation where the lack of reference creates an artificial situation. The edges of the light create a tension with the surrounding areas, that there could be something that is not seen, Bhabha’s inside, outside, inclusion and exclusion definitions of a border relate easily to these edges. There is a definite border, an edge created by the light, an exclusion created by the light. Hodge et al (A misGuide to Anywhere) define edges as where one place becomes another, a break in substance, change in land surface, local boundaries, borders and also zones of peace and war and the right and wrong sides of the track is part of this. What happens on those perimeters is bound up in the physical, political mental and social and is how I see the liminal.
Size: 1m. x 0.4m
This work, an angled neon tube that bulges at the bend, uses white neon light to question the relationship between light and its functionality within the non-place. This neon piece becomes a metonym of the non-place, its presence not substituting but taking the part of function. Whilst the commonplace fluorescent light is a purely functional object, neon is designed to be looked at, to be marvelled over, to lure and entice. It is a beacon of the commercial world, albeit almost superseded with LED light. It is now a craft object that identifies with earlier times and further makes the function and style of the fluorescent into an art object.
Bamboo, wire. Size variable.
Akin to sketching in space, this work is an ambiguous structure that takes its form from temporary and often ephemeral constructions that are used throughout the world that are used for everyday purposes. Its supposed absence of structure, however, belies its methodology. Each section is highly structured, however, each section is unstable and after each is made, it is allowed to find its own stability through the process of twisting and turning then, and only then, is the next section made. This fragile interdependence reflects the ambiguity of its structure. There are no detailed plans of its construction, of its purpose or of its function. It is a transaction between space and place.
This is part of a two year long project which began on a journey following the Mekong River, from close to China, down to the Cambodian border and alternating between the countries of Thailand and Laos.