Rita Gonzalez, author of Jennifer West: Across Time and Through Media (excerpts): West came out of DIY media scenes in the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s, where e robust community of individuals screened and circulated audio end videotapes. In drawing from the music and art movements of the region, she also wanted to break down a hierarchy of expertise Her projects from that time and up to the present still involve collective engagement, inviting participants to perform with or intervene on the filmstrip. West’s early synesthetic experiments involved marinating, treating, and performing with film stocks before transferring the materials to video with the help of other artists, family (many of whom are also artists) and friends. As West describes it, “I want to be that bridge that’s somewhere between art and film end movies, flipping the production and reception of these mediums around. A group of artists licking jam off 70mm film and sledgehammering it is the ‘film crew’ for example I’ve invested in all the ways in which I can make commentary through it, with it and reflect upon its relation to the world and to that place between art end film.” [… ] Salt Crystals Spiral Jetty Dead Sea Five Year Film (2013), shot on 70mm film, was a project years in the making. The film was placed in buckets with salt water drawn from the Dead Sea and then taken to Spiral Jetty, Robert Smithson’s famous 1972 land art piece in the Utah’s Great Salt Lake. Like her other treated films, the material traces left by the salt crystals on the celluloid are digitally transferred frame by frame, creating a moving scan of the material encounter and a mode of media preservation. As West has suggested, “this is a different way of representing time on film, abstract time through salt, mud, and corrosion that has been hand-transferred to digital frame by frame – essentially freezing the moment of digitization as a recording.” The Telecine process that West began using early in her film production education as a means for her to fully produce her own projects becomes the space for a poetics of transfer and translation. In this wild moment of media sharing, where clips of films both popular and arcane recirculate broadly, West has also been contemplating her own life (and the lives of countless other spectators) as measured by the filmic experiences we have had and share. Conducting a sort of media archaeology through the summoning of her own memories, she has been experimenting with the “poor image,” accessing many of her “movie memories” through torrents and You Tube downloads. Film Title Poem is part of a larger project on the nature of film memory, drawing in part from British artist Victor Burgin’s writings on the remembered film much shaped by his readings of Sigmund Freud and Roland Barthes, “The more the film is distanced in memory, the more the binding effect of the narrative is loosened. The sequence breaks apart. The fragments go adrift and enter into new combinations, more or less transitory, in the eddies of memory, memories of other films, and memories of real events.”
About Arcades: The 21st century has seen a dramatic shift in the way that architecture is experienced. Advancements in technology have enabled architectural representation to visualize the built environment through the lens of the virtual, generating digital renderings that depict both proposed and already-built structures as future projections. Arcades considers how this camera-less mode of representing architecture implies a virtual archaeology, as existing buildings are reimagined through image-generating software. Vistas of new cityscapes appear to excavate the past in order to renew the present, and our experience of architecture in the physical realm becomes shadowed by such images. This project considers the timescale at play, where capital is held in the virtual depiction of space rather than the physical structure itself, and where properties are bought and sold based solely on their digital representations.
Arcades expands on these notions and focuses on the materials themselves through the actual construction of an imagined archaeological site. Rather than the surfaces traditionally associated with ruins and excavation sites, the structure is clean and sleek, much like the historical buildings that are reconceived as new urban developments. The individual components of Arcades are titled numerically, as if catalogued from a single excavation. The installation speaks to the architecture left behind in a period of vast urban growth as a result of both growing technologies and declining industries, and considers the urban homogenization that propels the construction of contemporary cities, paying close attention to the generic materials and motifs used to advertise future sites.
Colin Pantall about Susan Derges’ work in Susan Derges: Water, Life and Photography (excerpts): Susan Derges is best-known for her large scale photograms that combine simplicity with a reverence for the element in which they are made. An almost personal involvement with water has been a hallmark of her work, and the lush but minimal way in which she examines its actions on the world around us can be traced back both to her schooldays in rural Hampshire and the time she spent working in Japan in the early 1980s.
The fascination with water was filtered through an organic minimalism that emerged from Derges’ experience of living in Japan in the early 1980s. “I went to live in Japan for a period of five years,” she says. “And Japan reflected that fascination as well because water is venerated there; in the temples, in the gardens, even in modern office buildings you’ll go in and there will be a quiet place with a small pond of water where you can sit and contemplate. Japan is completely watery,” says Derges with a laugh.
“I had got very tired of being dictated to by a process but I got really interested in the moons, the clouds and the star fields so I started to do a lot of night photography of moons and star fields. Then I used an enlarger head on a rail to make a tracking device and put in the transparency of the moon or stars and projected that onto the Cibachrome in the tank with the leaves and branches laid on top of it.”
“That’s made with constructed silhouettes. It’s a reference back to growing up. It’s an imaginary place with the branches brought in. It’s a digital print made with a digital camera.”
“In a way it’s about death. There’s this symbol of crossing the river and there’s the symbol of the fading moon but I wasn’t thinking about these things when I made it. I made it just after my mother’s death and I had a strong sense of the transience of life. It refers back to my childhood and the canal I used to play at, but I’ll probably never go to that place again because the person associated with it is gone.”
Christopher Bucklow, in the context of an interview at Fixemag: I produce work – often with some sense of purpose and knowledge of what I think it is about. Then I reflect on it. And often I see things that I didn’t know I was doing. So the work is like a symptom, and the reflection is like becoming ‘doctor.’ The results of the ‘consultation’ lead to new works, again they will contain unconscious as well as conscious contents. I reflect upon them and the whole process ratchets up in a feedback cycle. Often I paint a room or a space and I wait for one of the people who are part of my cast of characters to ‘come in.’ Then they suggest who they are with and what they are doing. And so the painting begins. The cast of characters was first established in the choices of people I used for my photography series ’Guest.’ They are all people I have dreamed of.
Laurence Aëgerter, about Trance: Trance consists of six voiles with prints from the Rijksmuseum’s Print Room showing a woman in various stages of ecstasy. During the séance she as it were stepped out of herself, as is witnessed by these photographs.
Where the images were first fixated in photographs, they are now ‘released’ with the aid of light and fabric and they remain in motion, altogether in line with the elusive state the woman is in. The reflections that are cast by the light in the library on the photographs in their plastic archival folders appear charged with meaning..
Laurence Aëgerter, about The Somnambulic Archive: By using phosphorescent threads, objects charged with meaning are brought to light in the dark. These objects are tied up with personal stories as shown in the photographs. The effect, however, is invisible during the day. Thus in ‘Horse’s Guide’, the servant who had to hold the horse by the lead was scratched away and retouched with brown ink. He was literally cut out of the family’s history. In the dark, the deletion becomes all the more noticeable because the scratches and retouches in the tapestry have been rendered in phosphorescent thread.