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Artist Statement
"Don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain" – The Wizard of Oz

 

 

While in Asia in 1994, I brought a 35mm camera to document my experience. Upon my return I realized that the images lacked the emotions of the experience. The collection existed as limited pretty pictures. In order to escape the limitations of the photograph, while resisting the temporal reality of cinema, I began exploring a technique of showing a rapid succession of images. This technique, to my discovery, mimicked the way that memories are stored in the mind as an almost of fragmented images of past events. Using this I could trigger the audience’s private memories of their own experiences and even implant a few new ones. With this goal of recreating the how the brain stores information as disassociated elements, I produce sound and image combinations that stimulate and imitate the recollection of an experience. Though this I am able to ensure a different experience for each audience member, depending on what memories they already brought with him or her to the performance.

I use projection and digital electronics as my primary delivery media, due to the ability of these tools to create a complex and large-scale environments on a minimal budget. These tools allow me to explore how the photographic image creates a virtual framework of an experience. The result is as much about social dynamics in physical space, and the audiences’ response as it is about the imagery and sound. In addition, the complex systems that I use challenge my own views of the presented work. Often the attempts to control the chaotic array of wires and LCD screens leaves me with sweaty palms. My motivation has a mad scientist element to it – I’m intrigued by what takes place when potentially volatile elements are mixed together. I get a thrill out of being the man at the controls – the man behind the curtain.

 

How I develop my work varies from project to project. Generally I try to build up a palette of photographs, video clips, and graphic illustrations. I don’t limit my use of media; in fact, learning a new technical process is half the fun. If I can I also like to start with an abstract concept based on a technical process, an experience, or a mental picture, but it doesn’t always work that way. From there I allow the concept to evolve as I combine these mediums. Some ideas have to be dropped and new ones emerge. Though I do as much as necessary to define the parameters for the presentation ahead of time, chance plays a large role in determining the final performance. A piece is done after it is presented to an audience in real time.

I work with, and constantly update, a custom made "visual instrument" of slide and video projectors, developing the software interfaces and user controls myself. I rely on computer technology as well as obsolete and custom-built technology. These tools insure the need to improvise. Each of these tools is intentionally constructed to have an aesthetic of it’s own. This is why I prefer to use slide projectors. They have a mechanical aspect to them, as well as a visual clarity, not found in video. During a performance these components take on the physical presence of a machine in operation - a kinetic sculpture spewing out imagery. Through this technique viewers can perceive the discreet steps of the animation process. The sound of the projectors also creates a visceral aspect to the performance. Each event is an original aesthetic creation that emerges from a complex combination of sight, space and sound. This sort of chaos leads to a completely original work each time a piece is presented. The result is a unique and unreproducable experience.

 

 

 

 

 

   
 
Last Update : 10 / 31 / 02  |  © Gregory Cowley 2002