Monday, 25 January 2016

Landscape in Film

With my latest work moving into landscape, I have started to explore the contextual heritage of artists working with landscape and the moving image. I have picked out key references where I see connection or resonance with some aspect of my own investigation.

William Raban
William Raban originally studied painting at St Martin’s School of Art. Early paintings explored how time could be captured within nature. His work included, leaving canvases outside to weather and grow mould, throwing thinned oil paint into the sea and taking prints from the breaking waves, or wrapping a canvas around a tree to take its impression. He began making films to find ways of more directly documenting time within a landscape setting. In View (1970) a river scene was recorded, documenting changes through a winter’s day. This recording lasted approximately 5 minutes and consisted of a series of filmic frames, captured some minutes apart. Compressed together, they created a time-lapsed image, the sense of change being heightened by the manipulation of time. Raban closely controlled the period between frames to create a naturalistic rhythm within the work, echoing the flux of nature’s own rhythm.

In Colours of this Time (1972) Raban used long exposures to record shifts in hue from sunrise to sunset. Minute, once imperceptible changes in light are revealed; the world is in flux. Working with Chris Welsby, Raban went on to produce River Yar (1971-72). Designed for two screen projection, the work followed the changing conditions over three weeks in spring and autumn. Viewed simultaneously, each screen respectively documented spring and autumn. Again, time was manipulated so that at once a screen might appear in real time, while the other marched ahead. For a period both screens synchronize before drifting apart again.

Using multiple screen installations is something I have already started to explore in my own work and something I will look to continue with. So far, multiple projections have been used to create combined images, allowing the 'happy accident' to help shape the work. Raban also stresses the importance of active experimentation in his working practice. However, juxtaposing different images to act as counterpoints to each other is something which I am yet to try. During the 'From the Studio Floor' exhibition I did show two linked projections either side of the main staircase, however these were simply two of the same recordings played in synchronization. The idea to exhibit in this way was a last minute consideration, decided upon the day before the exhibition. This meant there was little time for much experimentation, I did try projecting different animations but differences in timings and effects meant that these looked 'messy'. Visually there was also too much distance between the screens for the work to be effectively viewed together. Therefore, I settled for mirrored animations. In future I will look to try designing work to be viewed concurrently. This might also be a different direction from which to explore time within my work. Creating loops or patterns in time, the projections could phase in and out of synchronisation.

Link to Broadwalk

Chris Welsby

Chris Welsby first studied painting at Chelsea School of Art and was influenced by the 'systems' painters, which included Peter Lowe and Jean Spenser who taught at that time. While influenced by these painters Welsby in his own work opposed 'what is structured, measured, systematic and predictable, (with) what in nature is quite the opposite'  Natural systems he captured included the direction of the wind in Wind Vane - (1972) the movements of a moored boat in Estuary - (1980) or patterns in the cloud cover in Seven Days - (1974) Here I see a parallel with my own practice, I too have been influenced by painters who play with strong visual systematic pattern based canvases such as Bernard Frize or Bridget Riley. However, like Welsby this has not translated directly into my work,  I have also looked to create more natural/organic based works albeit primarily through painting and now animation. In the work Shore Line - (1977) Welsby used 6 projectors arranged in a line showing the same looped visuals of breaking waves. His work is primarily seen in the context of the gallery which he feels is more suited to the viewing of his work.

"I have always felt that the work is more readily understood in the fine art context. The concerns of cinema (as apposed to film) though undeniably of interest and relevance to my way of working have always been a peripheral consideration... Although still primarily cinematographic (these installations) allow for the viewer the freedom to choose the duration of his or her participation in the work"  - Chris Welsby  

I am personally undecided as to the best way of exhibiting my work and I have experimented with various locations including gallery spaces. I agree with Welsby's idea that the gallery environment allows viewers the chance to choose the duration of their participation in the work. However, so does work outside the gallery space, what the gallery space does offer is the chance to control conditions and set up complex arrangements in a sympathetic environment. It also offers is the chance to present other forms of work alongside the projected image which Welsby took advantage of in his installation for 'Estuary' exhibiting his film alonside log sheets, satellite photographs, and meteorological charts. Exhibiting prints alongside my projections is something I have discussed in an earlier post, realistically the best environment to do this in would be a gallery space. I have experimented with working both inside and out of gallery spaces over the last year. Outside I have enjoyed exploring how different contexts react with, or alter the reading of my work. However, inside gallery spaces I have been able to spend time creating more ambitious and immersive environments (Gallery 3/From the Studio Floor/DanceEast/UCS). I see myself continuing to experiment using both traditional and non traditional spaces as my work continues.

Links for the work of Chris Welsby:
Seven Days


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