The Silver Street Project
In a semi-demolished Victorian wine merchant’s warehouse in Bradford-on-Avon, I had the chance to make a site-responsive installation during a two-week period in July 2018.
Segregated by the bar-like joists of the missing ceiling, the stacked spaces of the stripped-out building evoked notions of transcendence. Its long-time use as a wine merchant also evoked thoughts of the transubstantiation of wine and other Christian beliefs.
In critically responding to the space, I wanted to subvert the superior valuation of the higher plane over the lower one. I wondered what might happen if I considered that plane to be the “earthly plane” and the space below as the underworld, or an inverted higher plane, as if the transcendent valuation was upside down. The Daoist consideration of the inevitability of change, the cyclical nature of time and a holistic perspective on the universe underpinned my considerations.
When I saw the space, I was immediately drawn to projecting something in the space above. I felt that by doing so, I would be asking the audience to consider: “why is that up there and I’m not?” By projecting something moving above, I could display something still down below and the two pieces would have an inherent dialogue based upon their location and perceived importance.
The monumental nature of the work and the space in which they were situated stimulates the viewer to consider themselves in their relationship to the work to activate and complete it.
I had been looking for a context to use some footage I had captured on my trip to China. The moving image visualises a circular and holistic metaphor for life and time in contrast to the transcendent cycle of birth, life, death and afterlife.
My intention was that the oscillation between the unsettling soundtrack of the film and the silence of the intermission in the projection loop would affect the perception of the still images below and the experience of the installation as a whole.
As I looked to respond to contexts of transcendent values and transmutation in the space, I researched The Stations of the Cross: Lema Sabachthani, 1966, by Barnett Newman. I felt that it could be a stepping off point in the creation of some luminograms in my studio to install at the site.
In further exploring the religious basis for the Stations of the Cross, I was surprised to find that in 2007: Pope Benedict XVI approved a new modification of the stations. As an atheist, I found it ironic that something as ritualised as the Catholic Church could alter something so fundamental to their practice.
The multi-panel images were installed in front of a window onto the street to react to the ephemeral nature of the light entering the space and illuminating the backlit film upon which the images were printed. The sleek modern material of the images was in stark contrast to the demolition surrounding them.
The suspension of the images from the exposed joists evoked an almost mystical serenity as well as an ordinal quality. Their staggered mounting deconstructs the image to create a perceptual shift as the viewer attempts to reconcile the visual components of the work. As the central viewing point is reached, the panels combine to obscure the window and the variation of illumination creates a depth in and across the images.