I thought I knew what video art was all about. Mostly a darkened room with a screen showing a loop of something tedious. Sit there for an age waiting for it to become interesting in some way only to find that it starts again. That has been my experience to date.
I was therefore completely blown away when I walked into the opening of “Digital Generation” at the Old Big School Gallery at Tonbridge School. The school is currently staging this exhibition in conjunction with Fidelity International. Fidelity is a financial management company – specialising in Unit Trusts, Pensions and the like. They have an art collection which decorates their offices worldwide, and a curator, Edmund Hubbard, whose job it is to select and site that art.
This collection is truly stunning. To start with the screens are presented as works of art. They are framed , often in wood, and sited on the walls to give them the presence they deserve. Some of the pieces like the one by Yang Yongliang in the image above, fill an entire wall. This piece initially looks like a traditional Chinese painting. Then one realises that the waterfalls are moving. A closer look reveals that the classic landscape is actually made from a montage of images and video of modern origin, showing cityscapes and construction. Everywhere there is subtle movement. The crazy bridges which interweave through the scene have tiny cars moving on them. If you watch for long enough then a little surprise event happens.
A collection of bird images by Dominic Harris are reminiscent of the moving paintings in a Harry Potter film. The screens used are incredibly high definition, and the detail on the birds is hyper-realistic. What’s more they sense the presence of the viewer as they are approached, and this alters the behaviour of the animated birds.
I could go on, there is work by ten artists, but the best thing, if you can, would be to get to Tonbridge School before 6th March and have a look. The exhibition is open to the public at weekends from 12:00 to 16:00.
Obviously we’ve been to the same video exhibitions. Up to now Bill Viola is the only one who’s shown me something more watchable. What a pity i can’t get to this show, but I’ll keep an eye out for the artist you mentioned.
You can see some of Dominic Harris’ work on his site here: http://dominicharris.com/ruffled-gallery/
Thanks Mike i’ll check it out. I’ve just spent a happy half hour looking at Yang Yongliang’s work on YouTube.
Hi Mike, like you I have often felt “underwhelmed” by video installations, but I can see from your description and the photo that this looks marvellous! Summer season here in NZ and we have had a few UK tourists through our little studio and gallery. Recently I had a lovely chat to someone who I think was in the Kent Potter’s Group and probably knew you. Sadly, I was loading a kiln at the time and wasn’t able to spend as much time with the person that I wanted to. Anyway, it is really nice to have contact with people from a part of the world that I still think of as “home”.
Hi Peter. I saw your post on the Majolica you did – Impressive for someone who doesn’t usually use that technique. I’ve never seriously tried it, though I was once told that mixing honey as well as water with the stains helps them flow off the brush. It was an Australian if I remember correctly – Karen Anne Wood, who used to be a member of the Kent Potters. So glad that you are enjoying summer – although it has been mild it still very much feels like winter here, although the spring flowers are showing and we saw some blackthorn in flower on the drive back from Bristol today.