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Light & Air - a natural response

It's a dozen years since I refocussed my attention from making narrative films to making stand-alone artworks. In that time I have discovered the urge to reach beyond the image, to consider the pictures I make (even the moving pictures) as elements integral to an object, or a series of objects, held in space and time - a more physical, material space than the reflective, virtual space of the screen. I now increasingly seek to generate experiences which people can choose to enter into or ignore, as they move through a specific setting in a specific moment, rather as they might choose to look at a tree or a building or a person...or not. These chance encounters can sometimes be as stimulating and memorable as a formalised engagement with art, on occasion even more so. I certainly do not reject the idea of placing work in galleries or business or domestic settings, but even here I seek to create the possibilities of chance and change when I can.

In recent years I have been working with suspended prints, produced on acetate and various fabrics so that they can hang more freely than prints on paper, and be less vulnerable to bending, tearing and marking. Thus they can be more autonomous and flexible, opening up the ways I can use them, and the places I can install them. Acetate prints especially have given me the advantages of translucency, offering the possibility that these image-objects can alter their appearance considerably, in response to changes in both natural and artificial light. And I have experimented with suspending the acetate prints from a single cord, so that they can respond not only to changes in light but to shifts in the movement of air - for example, by spinning in response to draughts from a nearby opening and closing door, or even the air movement generated by passing people. When more than one print is in motion, it sets up a dialogue with its neighbour. The more prints, the richer the dialogue.

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My current decision to work with cotton satin fabric is a significant one. It has opened up a whole new zone of possibilities. Such fabrics are also translucent. So they are both light responsive and lightweight. And cotton satin is fluid, flexible and even sensual in the way it moves, rippling and folding and unfolding with ease, not quick to crease and always ready to return to its hanging, vertical state when the air becomes still.

 

I have long been interested in the choreography of nature, and these new hangings can contribute to my involvement with that idea. From a breeze through a window or door, to a gust of wind in an open space, to a constant gale that threatens the hanging's removal to some distant location - each occurrence creates a different order of dance. Thus the work's commentary on its surroundings becomes enriched, expressive of the constant mobility of its environment. It is possible that the viewer might even sense a moment of

heightened awareness to events so familiar that they become easy to ignore. Light and air become both medium and message. Our consciousness of vital processes may be momentarily heightened.

 

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In a recent exhibition at Shepton Mallet Prison, in Somerset, I have create an environment of  translucent fabric that the visitor is invited to walk through. I hope to explore such expanded environments, supported by light, sound and text, in a series of exhibitions in the near future - including the combined Art Trail and Environmental Film Festival, in Totnes, Devon, during spring 2020

Geoff Dunlop

ARTIST CURATOR