My relationship to new media is one predicated on disruption and visual incongruity. In a digital culture driven by the desire for seamlessness and unquestioned functionality, my video installations draw attention to the paradoxes of digital specatorship in which analog forms of engagement such as physical performance and purposefully amateur set design highlight the distance digital technology inhabits, from a phenomenological world.
In the move from photochemical to digital photography and video, the indexical link between objects and their representations has been severed, replaced by a purely symbolic, mathematical dataset. However, imaging technologies such as cameras continue to be used to capture the world and the objects that inhabit it. As film cameras were initially used to record “actualities” – acting passively to capture as much visual data as possible – so now mobile technologies can record, format and circulate images of our daily lives with extreme ease. But if photography established a physical connection with a past event by ‘witnessing’, how do digital technologies (continuing to witness) help us imagine both our own presence in the world and events in the past to which the camera (as a digital technology) is no longer physically linked? Even analog video could claim to possess a body (in the magnetic tape) that degraded over time with each replay in the video deck. How do digital technologies change our relationship not only to time but to our bodies, as it offers a format that produces not one original but a multitude of originals which, rather than degrade over time, instead become “obsolete”?
My videos centre around differing virtualities and the apparatuses used to engage with them, playing with the tension between video cameras and editing software and the flesh, cardboard, paper and glue involved in performance. Contrasting the layered physicality of the sets and props I make, with that of the actor/s within those sets, I ask viewers to navigate strata of representations, all of which are ‘real’ and yet also ‘unreal’, some asserting themselves as more legitimate, while others negating that legitimacy. The conceptual back and forth set up between these semiotic strata aims to complicate ideas of immediacy and contingency, digital witnessing, and the privilege of photography to act as an archival process.
Historiography, that is, the representation of history as a practice, has to negotiate the dichotomous construction of history as a quotidian experience; as an act of the imagination and as concrete artifacts that offer clues to past lives and events. Some scholars argue that history is no more than a set of overlapping and intersecting discourses at the mercy of an ever present and increasingly connected network of technologies; that we have lost our historical consciousness in the adoption of machines that communicate instantaneously and illusionistically. My videos are an attempt to reconnect the physicality of a time and a place (as well as the bodies of the performers) with a historical imaginary by layering the temporality of the events depicted, the depiction itself, and the moment of viewing. Additional historiographic layers add complexity when source material I draw from (for example, plays and pamphlets from specific historical periods) are themselves, re-tellings of historical events. By muddy-ing the waters of historical representation I offer no stable ground on which viewers can make concrete judgments about historic facts, the fallibility of fictional narratives and the legitimacy of a search for origins.