Artist Statement : here-there-elsewhere
The starting point for this body of work is my experience of everyday life, further informed by the observations of contemporary social and cultural theorists: that we live in an ‘information,electronic or high tech society,’ enmeshed within a globalized economy and characterized by a technology-reliant, consumer culture.
Surrounded by global information and communication systems, I am interested in how these processes have transformed our relationships to time and space, as well as our understandings and experiences of culture and social relations.
Contemporary commentators suggest that distance and time no longer constrain our physical activity as they did in the past. The pace of life has sped up – we move more frequently, and with greater speed over vast distances. We also stretch our social relations across time and space – blurring the distinction between ‘presence’ and ‘absence’ – spending more time communicating with people not physically present, and increasingly absorbed in social and cultural interactions no longer constrained by locality and place.
This is the context for my visual exploration of our relationships with the rapidly expanding range of individualized technologies of electronic culture: – digital audio and visual –the internet, the telephone, portable computers, personal digital assistants, radio broadcasting, infrared and wireless.
These commodities embody for users the promise of mobility, privatization, portability and movement. They also allow and encourage the practice of ‘being in two places at once’, and doing two (or more) different things at once. The image is one of retreating into a sort of ‘second world’ adjacent to, but separate from, the everyday.
A related concept is ‘absent presence’ – diverted or divided consciousness through the use of communication technology – where we are ‘physically present, but absorbed by a technologically mediated world of elsewhere’. Another related metaphor is of ‘a new floating world; a world of meaning cut away’ from the mundane necessities of everyday life. One early form was the cyber community, now transformed into social networking.
The technique I use to explore these ideas is the photogram. It is a camera-less image made by laying objects on sensitized photographic paper and exposing them to light.
Through this technique there is the possibility to reference photographic history and go back to the basics, focusing on the fundamental features of photography – paper, chemicals and light. There is also the added enjoyment of touch, the tactile nature of the process as found and collected objects are arranged on the page in the intimate space of the darkroom, while the element of unpredictability offers an experimental facet to the process. There is also room for abstraction, for creating an evocation rather than representation.
Conceptually the photogram alludes to a central contemporary concern; the ‘phenomenon of emptiness’. It becomes possible to simultaneously record an event or an object, to refer to its presence while at the same time illustrating its absence, bringing us back full circle to mediated forms of contemporary culture.
no place/like home
Exhibited in situ: The Gallery, St Kilda Town Hall, St Kilda, Victoria, Australia.
25 May - 22 June 2011.