The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford University, held an event for artists and scientists last night – the project was officially launched before it tours.
The first video based on the T-cell files is finished. I’ve applied the experimental approach developed for my paintings and prints to the way I create the videos. The process is time-consuming as the outcome is, in a way, materials led and unknown.
Of course I have an idea what I’d like to achieve, but not how to achieve it directly. Most would call it trial and error, but this free way of working always surprises me and results in outcomes I had never imagined.
With regards to the video “AIRE“, following hours of experiments, I feel that one of the first incarnations is the strongest, simple and mesmerising. I like my videos to be the visual equivalent of soundscapes.
But, how does it inform the viewer? I can’t help but let the work develop, almost of its own accord, but ultimately directed by me. So the outcome may be far removed from the original source material – importantly though, the heart of what I do is the desire to create something seductive and beautiful which belies its origin: T-cells which for no obvious reason can attack the body and cause autoimmune diseases such as MS, Type 1 Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The meaning of the work may be unclear at the start of the viewing experience, but with the realisation of the profound subject-matter, the sensory experience is complemented and the work given a greater depth.
I collected the latest version of the lightbox yesterday from the framer. I added two new layers of engraved perspex to add greater depth and it worked! With the mirror behind there appear to be 10 layers which create a surprising illusion of three dimensions; the viewer’s subtlest movement completely changes the illusion, it appears to distort into space.
Given this success, I now plan to create a larger version at least 150cm square using heavier perspex – perhaps free hanging and not intended to be wall based. Ideally the piece will totally enshroud the viewer’s peripheral vision (similar to Barnett Newman’s concept). I am in discussion with Annina to work out the best way to create the microscopy image with a larger area of detail.
I like the idea of the engravings appearing to be machine made, but to me it is essential that they are hand rendered and laboured over, which is only evident on closer inspection of the viewer.
I visited the Abstract Expressionism show at the RA yesterday – it reminded me where my roots lie, but I’m sure as my practice has developed and evolved, I’m more keen to find order in chaos, actually I think I’m becoming obsessed to organise it. This current project is a prime example.
I’ve taken the microscopy images of the tissue (for the lightbox, those dyed blue to reveal the nucleus of the T-cell) and focused on the simple form and pattern. Multiplying the image in layers has worked well, the repetition created not only depth, but order.
A central core of the Abstract Expressionists is the work evolving out of the means of production, I’ve always been inspired by this and sure that this is where my engravings, videos and prints grow from now. A difference though, is that the cell images are not abstract, but also based on seen reality.
Which leads me back to my ongoing concern that my work should not illustrate the research, but also, it should not be so far removed from it that it is solely self-referential and doesn’t inform the viewer on the research in any way.