Artist filmmaker Nicky Hamlyn who has been active in the British experimental film scene since the mid 1970s is mainly known for his precisely structured observational 16mm films.
Hamlyn's concern with medium specificity and how film and video are invariably treated as indistinct in the industrial context are important aspects in his oeuvre. Thus almost all the works on display are presented in their original format. Hamlyn explains that these recent video works share formal interests with his 16mm films but are very distinctive media in terms of their approach. Works are medium specific not only in their making – for example his deliberate choice of camera for its capabilities or limitations – but also in their form of presentation.
'Although continuing to use film, I have become increasingly interested in the possibilities of digital video, especially in terms of post production, as a way of constructing very small loops from shot footage, whereby I can create unstable optical effects that come alive when the viewer fixates on a small area of the image.' (Nicky Hamlyn)
Hamlyn briefly engaged in colour field painting in his formative years, an influence that can still be found in his most recent film and video works. They are studies in the changes of surface structure, materiality and patterns of movement. Hamlyn traces brief, transitional moments in time and space, usually part of our everyday environment, things which are about to vanish and may have eluded our attention. By deploying mechanisms such as time-lapse, interlaced single-frame sequences and overlapping dissolves, he explores densities and interactions of light and shadow.
The play with light and translucence interacts with the gallery's distinct architectural structure: its columns and large windowpanes crucial in this strategy of juxtaposition. A see-through or inside/outside perspective is a constant element in Hamlyn’s body of work, and in this vein he has also created a new site-specific 16mm piece for London Gallery West, back-projected on to the window facing the smoker’s corner outside.
Hamlyn's work has rarely been shown in a gallery context until now, and the exhibition offers a selective overview of work made over the last ten years. Located within the University, the show has a special significance for Hamlyn, a long-standing teacher of film and fine art. By placing the works side by side, they are entered into a dialogue, allowing an insight into his recent work as part of an ongoing conversation with a continuity of concerns.