Archive for April, 2008


reassessment of final show piece…

This is a reflection on the progress of my final show piece.  I was driving down the road attempting to film truckers stopped in lay-bys for the night as footage for my final work and I have to say it was entirely unsuccessful. 

But as I was driving searching (for what Chris Petit would call) the perfect shot, it did allow me the time to think about all the other footage that I am hoping to capture for this piece, and as I reeled off in my head all the ideas I have I began to think ‘this is too much for the viewer to comprehend’. 

To recap my idea was to capture a menagerie of footage that encapsulated the identity that this non-space embodies, but to present all my research from the last year as one piece, and expect the viewer who is seeing it for the first time to understand it is a big ask. 

I feel that if I do continue with my original line of enquiry the piece will fail, as the viewer will be engulfed by a plethora of information that could hinder their comprehension of the work.  This would contradict the very essence of the piece. 

By bombarding the viewer in this way I would be personifying the very entity I set out to challenge, I would be encapsulating why we fail to identify with this space, which is because of our accelerated movement and a barrage of visual stimuli, and this would be futile.

Then the wise words of Andy came into my head, ‘keep it simple, the simplest ideas work best’… and with that I started to reassess my approach.

I have made a decision to concentrate on just one example of identity within the motorway.  I still intend to use ultrasonic sensors to trigger the change in video; just with this approach the altered video will display one example as opposed to many examples. 

The example of identity that I want to focus on is the flowers that sit on our central reservations, symbolising that a event happened, and now is embedded within a this particular space.  I think this is the most poignant and understandable example demonstrating the methodology that supports this work, and as I have been involved in a serious car accident myself it is also personal to me.

I still intend to capture all the footage that I was going to use, but now I will use this footage for my website, and this will act as a supplement to my final show piece.

By concentrating on just one aspect and keeping it simple I feel that the viewer will be able to relate to the work, and therefore this approach has the most potential for the piece to be successful.


Mircia Cantor ‘Shortcuts’…

Mircia Cantor’s photographic series ‘Shortcuts’ (2004) shows the formation of beaten paths left in the ground where pedestrians have cut a corner. These new walkways create alternatives to the “official” pavement plan, forming new lines of flight.

These photograghs  join documentation to indeterminacy: while the photographs appear neutral and objective, embodying a form of straight documentary representation, their meaning couldn’t be less secure as you may ponder the motivation behind these alterations in space and discourse,

Cantor’s photographs reveal intervention but explain nothing, as if to avoid the authoritarian associations of directing subject matter, producing clear messages, or controlling interpretation. 

For me this series shows how we, over time, can shape a spaces identity.  Like the Colorado River that has carved the Grand Canyon over millions of years thus authorising its’ identity, the same principles can be applied here.  Individuals over time have shaped these discourses until they have become valid routes for transit, a pertinent example of how we affect space.


It all about events…

My work has become more and more interested in how time embeds itself within an object or a space.  This idea has led me to search for new examples of identity within the motorway. 

Every event that shapes the motorways identity originates from an individuals act of journey through it.  It is the accumulation of these events that continually change the surface of this urban landscape.  

As I have previously observed these events are more often than not subtle interventions that have a temporary status, so I stepped back from my work before looking at it again (action reflection in……. action……!) I wanted to see if I could locate a more permanent scar of identity (if you will) To see if I could find a more pertinent example of time manifesting itself within this space.

In a tutorial with Andy he introduced me to a new way of observing this space.  Andy pointed out that the motorway (in this example, yet it can also be applied to any urban space) can be segregated into zones.

At either side you have the embankments that are intersected by hard shoulders and parking areas, Then moving inwards you have the road with its rush of activity yet there is a space that exists in-between these lanes, where the lines are painted, a kind of ‘no-zone’ for vehicles traveling in parallel.  Moving inward further we encounter the central reservation, another ‘no-zone’ where litter, dust and debris accumulates, adding to the spaces identity.   Then we have the mirror image of this as we move away from the central reservation.  

With this I started to look at the white lines that segregate the motorway lanes and found them to be rich in marks. cracks and stains, each representing a moment in time and an event that shaped it.  A skid mark that may have led to a accident, the sloppy reapplication of a line by some worker who didn’t care about his job, the cracks from years of cars switching lanes.  Everyone of them different.



moving = events

Throughout this project I have often addressed to what extent movement defines the motorways identity and as my investigation has progressed it has become apparent to me that movement is the predominant force  that shapes this space. Why? it may seem like an obvious observation but our movement through the space creates the events that shape it.  

Every event that affects this zone originates from this act of passing, and as my work has become more focused I have become more and more interested in solely capturing this movement, to strip away the identifiable objects that trigger memory and association to leave the viewer with an abstracted representation of the movement that shapes this space.

With this experimental video piece I filmed a busy interchange capturing the people that passed through this space, then using filters stripped away the identifiable objects to reveal the true movement of the space.

This piece in many ways reminds me of Christopher Wools work, albeit a moving image in this case.




Gabriel Orozco…

An artist whos work shows the evidence of time within objects is the Mexican Gabriel Orozco.  His work makes use of salvaged everyday objects, but for Orozco the significance lies not in the objects themselves but in his encouter with them and their subsequent transformation.  In Black Kites, a human skull is graphedd out with a chessboard grid turning it into a densely allusive entity that contrtasts the ideas of interlect, modernist history and Mexican symbolism with death.  He says ‘Its about the body pressing against the material, it’s the form determined by the mould of my fingers’

This statement runs true in a wider sense of his conceptual, sculptural and photograpgic practice as a whole which constantly returns to the material collision of culture and nature, man and his environment.  He articulates this in the most intimate of terms in fragile improvisational objects chracterised by an ephemeral, modest beauty.  Such as ‘Lintals’ which is a collection of flimsly lint mats saved from  laundromat tumble dryers after a years worth of clothes washing.  This work shows in a poignant manner the passing of time and the interwining of a body and its surroundings.


Melik Ohanian…

Melik Ohanian’s work explores the notins of territory and space.  Using multimedia such as video, photography, installation and text.  His images usually incorporate several superimposed layers of the real in which he shows ‘other places’ telling of a reality that is already infused by the imaginary.

‘White Wall Traveling’ is a film and a collection of stills.   As part of this series Ohanian shows the now inoperative liverpool docks, which were the scene of great strikes in the late nineties, and now lay empty, a gigantic space void of people in a decaying no mans land-which could be anywhere.

Ohanian also photographs apartment towers or municipal fringe areas yet excludes any depictions of their residents.  By removing the people we are left only to view the effect we have had on the spaces, and this absence seems to make the human presence in this series resonate more strongly.

In ‘Slave to Valse’, Ohanian invites the viewers to produce through his pre-historical computing machine different letters, words and signs on five lightning boards placed into the gallery space, in the process where the viewers acts as a computer.

On the opening day the word ‘Slave’ appears on the boards as a hypothetical starting point and on the final day of the show the word ‘Valse’ operates as a hypothetical ending point. During this time, the space would be the place of countless small modifications performed freely by the visitors.

 The viewers shape the work with their own choices.  The work becomes a digital representation of events that occured during a specific space in time which led to the works new identity.  For this process of recording and displaying a collection of events I find Ohanian’s work quite poignant with regards to my own practice, whereby I am aiming to capture the series of events that occur within the non-place, and consequently define it’s identity.


Vera Lutter….

Vera Lutter practices photography in its elementary form and in an extremely artificial manner.  She works with the original principles of the light drawn image.  She sets up large wooden boxes to capture the light or uses entire rooms as her cameras.  She covers the windows in black plastic, cuts a tiny hole in the centre of this and thus exposes the photo paper hung on the opposite wall – sometimes for hours, often days and even weeks.  the pictures become originals created without a negative. There are no tricks, no retouching, her work simply documents the fall of light which inscribes itself in the pictures as areas of darkness.

The photos depict a ghostly counter-world of city views, airports, docks and factories.  It is an uneasy, silent world, without people, leaving the impression of condensed, suspended time.

Lutters work holds relevance with regards to my own practice.  Not just for her subject matter, as she too is preoccupied with the more ominous products of modern society, yet in addition to this she utilises the process of time to create her work.  By using time and light in this way her photos become evidence of the events that shaped it.


There are parallels in this process to the way in which the motorways identity is shaped, which is by the accumulation of events that we collectively impact upon it.  Every event that occurs within this landscape originates from an individuals act of journey through it.  Even if our impact upon the motorway is as subtle as the exhaust fumes from our cars slowly staining the undersides of the bypasses that support the roads above it, we still affect it. 

April 2008
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