In this major exhibition of his work, Mike Marshall uses video, sound and photography to re-evaluate simple scenarios and ambient spaces. Just as the small events of daily life often only slowly reveal their interest and potential, Marshall's work slows down the time of looking to emphasise the background glitch and hum of experience. In doing so it reverses conventional hierarchies of looking and at the same time provokes examination into the nature of our engagement with the immediate world around us.
The photographic works in the exhibition are highly detailed scenes that appear to be found along the way and without any predefining motive. In each, there is an unexpected layering of depth and focus, which places the viewer at an uncertain threshold between concentrated looking and a kind of blank staring. As in his work as a whole, these images go beyond just the recording of events and places to suggest quiet psychological territories.
In the video work, A Train Passes Through Trees, we watch as light flickers across the interior of a train carriage. Cutting to the view outside the train window, a tropical landscape moves past dissolving into an abstract pulsation of colour. This work takes the familiar hypnotic situation of simply being on a train and gazing at the passing landscape, and amplifies it to an almost hallucinogenic level. In Birdcatcher (originally shot on 16mm film) the smooth mechanical movement of the camera contrasts with the uneven natural terrain it explores. Its atmospheric soundtrack is a meticulous reconstruction of forest sounds that seems almost to draw the movement forward. Marshall's use of audio, both in his films and standalone sound pieces, tend to be characterised by the 'sheer sonic density of those natural ambiences which we customarily filter out' . His sound installation Cloudburst, involved the recording and layering of individual droplets of water falling on different surfaces, with around 200,000 drops falling over a period of four minutes, the small noises slowly accumulating to become the sound of heavy rain.
The exhibition organised by Ikon, Birmingham, in Winter 2005 has subsequently been shown in Milan and Blackpool, albeit in different forms, now touring to Paisley supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The exhibition is accompanied by the first monograph of Marshall's work, co-published by Ikon and Paisley Museum & Art Galleries with a foreword by Jonathan Watkins, essay by Martin Herbert, edited by Nigel Prince, price £12.95, and is available from Paisley Museum & Art Galleries. Birdcatcher was commissioned and produced by Film and Video Umbrella as part of Single Shot. Single Shot is the product of a major new collaboration between the UK Film Council's New Cinema Fund and Arts Council England. Supported by Illy. Single Shot is managed by Film and Video Umbrella and Maya Vision International. With thanks to Union gallery.
Mike Marshall was born in 1967; he lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Union, London, At The Edge of the Known World, the Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, Not Far From Here, Pianissimo, Milan, The Intimacy of Distance, Ikon, Birmingham and Here is Fine, Tate St Ives. He has also taken part in group exhibitions throughout Europe, Japan, the US and Korea, as well as extensively in the UK.