in my house 8 24/1/21
We're eight shows in to this project now, and so comes the challenge of transforming the space yet again with some artwork. This show was particularly exciting for me because i was installing two mediums i had never shown in the house before; text and sound. Working with seven artists for this instalment meant i had a sizeable volume of work to accommodate and its important for me to keep my curatorial choices interesting and avoid repetition as much as i can.
One of the bigger challenges was displaying Charlie Cooper's sound piece 'Deep Channels'. How do i digitally document a sound piece in an online exhibition? How would i play the sound? Would i show the source of the sound (i.e a speaker or laptop) in the documentation as part of the work? I've always remained curious and aware as to how much the house is able to overwhelm the works or influence their contexts. This was of extra concern when curating an artwork with no visual or physical presence. Particularly because the audience would be hearing the piece through a device (phone or computer). This piece was composed by Charlie who usually performs his work to a live audience, so this was an interesting alternative method of display for the work. There were a lot of layers this sound had to travel through; being initially played through a speaker, and recorded by a camera and edited together on a laptop and eventually posted on instagram. It's interesting to consider how the sound has 'travelled' in this way and whether it remains authentic to Charlie's live shows, though it is perhaps reminiscent of how Charlie processes and distorts sounds in his performances. Without a visible reference for these sounds, imagination allows us to tie them to wherever in the house we are being shown at that time. I chose to film a series of static video shots throughout the space. I wanted to suggest to the viewer that they weren't being shown photographs but in fact static video, and felt changing each shot and 'travelling' around the house would influence the perception of the piece and give each space an air of animation. The video being so still creates a sense of unease and intrigue; viewers might be waiting in suspense to see if anything moves into the frame. The choice to not show a device playing the noise in any of the frames for the show was made to retain a sense of curiousness to the work; having a speaker visible would have ruined the illusion i feel, and its absence makes the piece sound like more of a soundtrack that is allowed to dominate each space. It gives the sound and visuals a chance to work in unison like they would in a movie to set the scene. The bulk of the sound comes from a recording of melting ice, but with Charlie's composition and editing the sounds remain ambiguous and possesses its own narrative that is only reinforced by the house. Spaces like the bathroom emulate a 'psycho' atmosphere, whilst the staircase instils suspense and feelings of ascension. It reminded me of that feeling of being home alone and hearing an unfamiliar noise that you immediately try to rationalise as something like the heating coming on.
Claire's text piece 'Creamy' also felt quite dramatic in a more apparent way, the prose describing an intimate moment between a couple in a restaurant. I wanted the scale of the text to reflect the strength of the narrative, and an A4 page didn't seem quite enough of an impact for the sized wall i had chosen. I sent the text to a local vinyl printers and installed it directly onto the kitchen wall at approximately A3 size. I wanted the text to become a part of the space rather than a printed page on the wall and for the boundary between artwork and space to dissolve. I wanted the narrative to bleed into the kitchen like words coming off a page and coming to life. Installing vinyl is quite laborious and a very tactile process; the piece adhered to the wall a line at a time, and i just loved the finished result. It truly looked like a magnified page out of a novel that had been typed directly onto the surface. The contrast of the matte black letters against the white kitchen wall felt bold enough to reflect the theatrical, descriptive language of the text piece. This display may look quite similar to the kind of vinyl you would find at the beginning of an art exhibition that usually introduces the premise of the show to a viewer before they walk around the space. But i feel its scale is still small enough to steer away from this connotation. The font and margin of the text further solidifies the text as a strong visual artwork. I almost wish there was a chapter number above the text, as though we are only seeing a snippet of a deep and meaningful story that might encourage a search around the house to see if any more pages of the story are displayed on the white walls. I chose to install this piece in the kitchen because the subject of the text revolved around food. I imagined the couple sat intricately examining the dish in front of them, with the unusual waiter in a wet suit an alluring addition to the narrative. The kitchen is often a space of comfort, intimacy experimentation or sometimes chaos, and these qualities aligned well with Claire's text.
I loved experimenting with the size of screen i showed James' McColl's work 'EMU Tutorial' on. It carried the atmosphere of a late night teleshopping advert only the nocturnal would tune into. I envisioned myself laying in the bed and watching it on an ipad, where a lot of people do their overthinking and strange late night shopping. I also found an interesting contrast between the small scale of the device and the large infinite scale of the subject of the video. The contrast between the expanses of space that an astronaut would encounter when wearing this equipment and the small intimate space of the bedroom was absurd. The subject was so far removed from domestic space yet it felt completely fitting to exist within it for this reason. The bedroom remains such a private place, and one quote from James's description of the piece aligns so well with bedroom space; he could almost be describing both spaces, "[It] also provides comfort, mobility, dexterity and a specified unobstructed range of vision during operations..." The smaller ipad screen reinforces the portable nature of the equipment in the video and how accessible information is to use from our bedside tables and our devices. We can access pretty much anything from the comfort of our beds.
I chose to display Svetlana's 'The Creatures of Mysterious Machinery' as a large scale projection on the living room wall above the sofa. The typically linear movement of the farming equipment becomes cyclical and contorted by Svetlana's choice of camera. The 3D GoPro distorts the machines so that they become almost alien and certainly unfamiliar as heavy duty machinery. Her use of the word 'creatures' in the works' title is aptly used. Svetlana's interest in sitting somewhere between the known and unknown is reinforced through placing the work in a living room. The living room acting as the ordinary or familiar territory further pushes the work into the realm of the unknown. The room becomes less of a space for reclining and comfort and more of a vessel for hosting autonomous machines. The space looks more like an urban waiting room with innovative new technology displayed as entertainment for anyone who lounges on the furniture. Even when the vehicle leaves the frame the ground is still distorted, and the horizon line separating the sky and ground blends together as the camera documents each machine. The rigid L shape of the sofa is a pleasing contrast to the the machines that possess an unnatural flexibility. It is a satisfying yet unnerving visual that aims to challenge the viewer's perception of objects and their regular functions.
Will Harman's rave paintings physically exist on such a grand scale that i wanted to ensure their digital representation was just as bold and impactful. He sent me three different paintings and i wanted to show them all to emulate the crowded nature of the rave scene. The deep black backgrounds on each painting felt so expansive and i felt like the dark outside space would accentuate the boundlessness this colour suggested. I projected them as closely to their original scale as i could onto the brick wall in the garden. The rustic quality of the beige bricks against the figures in the paintings just evoked a sense of freedom. Will describes his painted figures as stiff and awkward, sitting somewhere between realism and the surreal. Each painting is a collection of flailing limbs and multiple personalities. The fact that the figures are existing so closely to each other seems very surreal in current circumstances. These paintings evoke a sense of nostalgia that may not have been intentional or as confrontational pre 2020, but the close proximity of the figures in the paintings displayed in this vast garden space is such a cathartic contrast. I feel when we are allowed to socialise again we might appear as awkward and stiff and the figures in Will's paintings. It was hard to photograph these paintings in the dark, and the accidental addition of a floodlight from the neighbours garden was an interruption that further grounds these paintings in the space. I imagine this light illuminating the figures in a club as the beat drops.
Smriti's, Chinar's and Leslie's 'More love, More joy, More Mortgage' was displayed on a laptop in the office space. The use of stock footage and digitally composed voiceover rooted the work in the realm of the constructed hyper real digital space. I wanted to keep the work digital and play it on a device like a laptop because it felt so in tune with where most of us search for the ideal version of our own reality. On our devices everything is accessible to us and available in abundance, and the visuals of luxurious apartments and happy families jumping into swimming pools along with the computer generated voice over narration reinforces how much capitalism distorts our everyday lives. The work confronts the notion that happiness can be purchased because look at these laughing smiling people in front of a green screen and this slow motion shot of a young child being swung in circles by some adult arms. It assesses how much of our everyday can be digitized or reconstructed by technology. With most commercial advertising we see ideal versions of people or places that instil within us a sense of needing the thing they are selling so we can smile like the happy family on the screen. Playing this video on loop in the office intensified the repetitive nature of the works title, more more more and became quite unnerving. Walking past the office all you would hear is this digital voice that was strangely compelling but also haunting. It became quite disturbing with each loop.
Janet Stafford was the second of two painters in this show, with her more traditional take on the medium displaying one of her oil paintings 'Nature 16'. The number 16 suggests that Janet regularly paints scenes of nature in the form of series, and she often records trees in their different states during changing seasons. I chose to display a more bare looking tree as a projected image in the upstairs hallway above an oak side table. I felt there was an interesting juxtaposition between the natural facets of the branches being displayed with the architecture of the side table. Here we are presented with different iterations of wood; in it natural uninterrupted form in Janet's painting and its architectural form as a piece of functional furniture in which we store items. We are presented with some form of life cycle of the tree in a way, and directly confronted with the effect of human intervention within nature. In Janet's painting the tree is in a state of transition, its leaves have fallen as autumn turns into winter. In this same sense the location of the hallway acts as a transient threshold between two states (upstairs and downstairs, inside and outside). From another perspective I feel in this setting Janet's painting becomes less about nature and more about materiality. I don't see the tree as a painting or an object, but a material component. My eye starts to analyse all the objects in the frame that are constructed from trees; the door, the side table, the staircase. The domestic setting elevates this painting as more than an aesthetically beautiful recording of nature. It explores growth, human intervention and what it means to bring nature indoors in different forms, some more selfish than others perhaps.