shadows behind the looking glass
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
– Lewis Carroll, “Alice In Wonderland”
Our perceptions of the world are defined by webs of electricity, delicately traced out in our minds. The individuality of these means that one person’s truth may become another’s lie; contrasting elements might embrace or be repelled like magnets. A shadow cast on the ground may become more real than the object itself. I have chosen for my exhibition because I believe they best represent my exploration of the ways mundane realities can be subverted, to reveal a landscape – a wonderland – of new truths.
My exploration began with structures, and the desire to create something that was both beautiful and haunting, even otherworldly. Inspired by images of abandoned theme parks, I began experimenting with the relationship between human structures and their decay on encountering nature. Cebollas, which resulted from this exploration, were a first for me, as I had never attempted sculpture before. Carving and constructing the forms gave me a new appreciation for that side of art and inspired me to keep exploring three dimensional methods with pieces like the Flying Dutchman.
Artists such as Franz Marc and Alexander Calder have always fascinated me, their works’ influence evident in the geometric forms I tend towards. Yet as I began to question how art might alter our perception of reality, several artists, amongst them Lee Bul, Damian Hirst, Roger Hiorns, and Sopheap Pich, inspired me to widen my definition of art. In my work with textures on Inverted Shadows, I realised that medium, like charcoal, need not dictate material. I could create illusions of three dimensionality through tone, which I then translated into sculptural form, disguising the underlying structures of my sculptures by applying skins of paint and finish. Thus, a piece of molten cling-film might become metal, a bamboo skewer aged bronze. By playing with disparities between form and appearance, I hope to give the viewer room for thought, and imagination.
I had thought I was working outside my comfort zone when I took on sculpture. Shades Of Ambition was a test not only of my technical ability, but my understanding of human form and how it is reshaped by emotion. Yet the fractal figures bely a stiffness that has always been intrinsic to my art. Creating something beautiful seemed synonymous with immutability. Cebollas’ plants, for instance, are fake, and will never truly decay. To truly suggest a collapsing reality, I had to relinquish my control.
I had to stop being the artist.
When I began to work with light, I lacked an appreciation for its volatility. Nature’s virtuoso, light helps us see things, but also changes them. What interests me is that it also gives the traces – the shadows – objects leave behind, a life of their own. In shadow, my art attained a new kind of skin, one I had no control over, that was two dimensional and abstract. Through physical, photographic, and cinematographic means I attempt to record this second dimension, evoking, perhaps, through visual confusion, a sense of mystery.
My final piece, Fragments, seeks to manipulate light with mirrors in such a way that the wearer’s visual field literally cracks to pieces. It is a disorienting, even dizzying feeling, but it is key to my exhibition. Literally looking through the looking glass, as well as at and over and around it, the implausibilities represented in my other works gain tangibility.
At the core of my work is the relationship to the viewer. Many of my pieces are interactive, and each is open to individual interpretation. The world hinted at by the Cebollas is fleshed out by the viewer’s imagination; Nebulous is presented as a mystery, and interpretations of it vary from cells to three dimensional maps of the galaxy; my shadow-based pieces morph with the viewer’s flashlight; Fragments actively destroys and reshapes their perception of their environment. My pieces are incomplete without the human element, the creativity of the viewer. By suggesting alternatives to the world around us, I hope to inspire thought and an appreciation for the delicacy and uniqueness of our interpretations of reality.
When in Wonderland, imagination reigns supreme.