This survey exhibition of moving image and installations includes early single-screen videotapes, video documentation of previous large-scale installations, and new and recent moving image and sound installations using renewable energy systems, including some works that have not been staged in the UK.
Chris Meigh-Andrews has been working with the electronic moving image since the 1970s, exploring the technologies that are connected to its production and presentation. With the advent of many and various new media for the recording and playback of the world around us, there is a potential to explore these technologies and expose their part in the production process in order to obtain a greater understanding of their influence and impact upon us. More often than not new technologies are viewed as precise and exact – sealed systems that are incorruptible. But the ways in which information can be transmitted or transferred across media, and through this process can be corrupted or translated, is something that Chris explores and uncovers.
Moving image has generally superseded video art as a term to describe work made using the recording of time-based images and their presentations on screens. Standard formats have emerged that connect to the common experience of watching television, and many artists produce work that accept these as conventions, and frame their work within those boundaries as short films, documentaries, feature films, animations or other formats that we may be familiar with. Artists have also pushed many of the boundaries within these genres, stretching and playing with them in terms of methods of production and modes of engagement. Chris has gone beyond these conventions and uses the technologies themselves as the material to work with, shifting the viewer’s focus onto the nature of the material that is usually ‘behind the scenes’, or taken for granted.
Works such as ‘A Photographic Truth’, 2001, and ‘Temporal View in Amsterdam (After BB Turner)’, 2003, highlight the changing nature of information across time. Taking as their source material early photographs from the Victorian era, new technologies have been used to manipulate this information and overlay them with scenes of the same location, allowing ‘ghosts’ of the present to inhabit a scene from the past and vice versa. The use of technologies that were new at the time of their making provides a direct bridge and link between the two times that perhaps questions the nature of time and place.
As well as the transference of information, the transference of energy is also a central focus of much of Chris’ work. Information can be viewed as a form of energy and vice versa, particularly when it is mediated via technologies that employ energy to move it around and display it. For example, ‘Perpetual Motion’, 1993, circulates energy from a fan (that takes its power source from the national grid) to a wind turbine that is used to power a small monitor displaying mediated images of nature on a small high-level monitor. The sequence or chain of flow is made clearly visible (through a sequencing of cables) and can be tangibly felt in the air by the viewer. The ‘gap’ between the fan and the turbine raises awareness of the transference of the energy, and the images of nature return the viewer’s mind to the natural sources of power that enable the work to function.
Other works within the exhibition (such as ‘Xtea’, 2009, which is an homage to the creation of XCoffee – the precursor to the development of the World Wide Web, and ‘Turing Test’, 2010-11, which pays tribute to the death of the mathematician Alan Turing) reference historical moments that have been crucial to technological developments. ‘Turing Test’ also questions the idea of truth and where it can be by presenting different possibilities within a work. The idea of truth is a strand that runs across the exhibition. The passing on of information across times and spaces is something akin to ‘Chinese whispers’ – information is passed on and degrades or is misinterpreted and results in a new truth emerging.
About the artist
Meigh-Andrews is a pioneering video artist, writer and curator from Essex who has been making and exhibiting screen-based video and sculptural moving image installations since the mid 1970′s. He studied fine art at Goldsmiths and completed his PhD at the Royal College of Art in 2001 and has taught at numerous art schools and media departments in the UK. He has held a number of artist’s residencies in the UK and abroad and his site-specific and commissioned installations often incorporate renewable energy systems and establish direct relationships with the natural and constructed environment.
Curatorial projects include Yes, Snow Show, (British Film Institute, 2009), Analogue: Artists’ Video from the UK, Canada and Poland: 1968-88, (Tate Britain and Modern, London, and at venues in Liverpool, Norwich, Warsaw, New York, Toronto, Ottawa, Valletta and Berlin.) and The Digital Aesthetic, in collaboration with the Harris Museum (2001, 2007 & 2012).
Chris has written extensively on the history and context of artists’ video. His book, ‘A History of Video Art: the Development of Form and Function’, (Berg, Oxford and New York, 2006 and Sangensha, Tokyo, 2013), provides an overview of the development of artists’ video since its inception. The second expanded edition of the book was published by Bloomsbury in Dec 2013. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Electronic & Digital Art at the University of Central Lancashire (Uclan) and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Moving Image Research in the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education at the University of the West of England (UWE).