Katie Paterson's Snow Shot from 100 Trees records the artist's passage through Epping Forest, shooting snow off the branches of trees with a catapault. A microphone beneath each tree recorded the sound of the falling snow, and the 100 events are played back in the gallery in a single track that lasts approximately 17 minutes.
Paterson's work explores landscape by means of technology. Her work addresses the sublime, but involves a withholding of the visual. This withholding suggests not only the tiredness of landscape representation in painting or photography but also that attempts to capture, domesticate or otherwise bridge the gap to landscape are inherently futile. We are left with a sense of insurmountable distance between ourselves and geological reality, and our intimacy, such as it is, with this reality is mediated by fragile technology.
Paterson graduated this year from the Slade School of Fine Art. Her recent works include Earth-Moon-Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) - the transmission of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata to the moon and back, the resultant fragmented composition being played back on a computer-controlled grand-piano; and Vatnajökull (the sound of), which involved the installation in an Icelandic glacier of a microphone connected to a mobile phone: the phone could be called from all over the world. She will be showing in the MOMA Oxford Encounters series in April 2008.
Much of Andrew Stahl's recent work reflects on travels to Japan and Thailand and addresses the conflation of time, space and cultures that long-haul travel brings about. The show at Matthew Bown Gallery consists of a single large painting, measuring 9 by 13 feet, entitled Parasol, the image of a geisha against the freely-painted background of a willow-tree.
Parasol deals with the construction of identity in paint. Its focal point is the face of the geisha, which looks out from under under a red-and-white parasol of heraldic intensity. A geisha's face is not really that of an individual: it is, in a sense, itself a painting, constructed from layer upon layer of make-up ("greasepaint", to use a theatrical term) under which any sense of personality disappears. A geisha's clothing, too, is a dense layering, a drapery confection that evokes the work of window-dressers or still-life artists while effectively obliterating the real body. Stahl's painting, while nominally the image of a human being (his wife), concentrates attention on the artifice and convention that attends all representation.
Andrew Stahl has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. He has shown recently at 100 Tonson Gallery in Bangkok and had a one-person show earlier this year at Robert Steele Gallery, New York. In December he will be artist-in-residence at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art, China.