How we perceive and interact with landscape through new digital means in an important facet of my work.
I make .gif imagery - one of the first truly digital aesthetic products of the internet; a technology that seems to be having a resurgence as an art object.
The revival of the animated GIF marks a point in the history of the web when it finally became sufficiently advanced to take pleasure in its own obsolescence. Like the rusty engines and the leaking pipes of the derelict spaceship in Alien, the lo-fi jitter of the GIF signals a moment when the novelty of technology fades off and becomes the backdrop rather then substance. Technology, it seems, repeats itself twice, first as a breakthrough, second time as nostalgia.It seems to be a good medium to investigate how we interact with the world around us now. We live in an age where trees can have twitter accounts, where we are even more connected to updates about soil temperature, weather reports and land anywhere at any time but are all at once even more disconnected from it. Landscape becomes the background of our phones, a quick snapshot uploaded to instagram, and a certain select few get to represent the genre on macintosh's photobooth.
- Gif Today by Daniel Rubenstein
A tree that's really socially engaged for something lacking a conscious mind
When we live in a world where we can beam ourselves into a tropical destination at a moments notice, or a budgie can ride a virtual rollercoaster (see end), what happens to landscape imagery? Does it carry the weight that it used to? Or is it reserved to novelty, to travel blog posts and iphone covers.
At a recent exhibition at Inspace I saw an interesting piece of work that was concerned with the old meeting the new. Vintage, specifically Scottish landscape illustrations were available to mix up in layers which once complete, formed a composite and accompanying poem which was then beamed across the town to a viewfinder.
This mixing of genres, of displacement and of a specific type of cultural identity resonates with my own work.
We experience more and more online these days - during the recent "frankenstorm" aka hurricane Sandy in New York people were finding more and more comfort/information, not through news websites but social media like twitter and instagram.
In the days since, the #Frankenstorm went from trending topic to terrible reality, killing more than a dozen people, flooding much of New York City, and leaving hundreds of thousands without power or transportation. -- As it unfolded, a different confluence of factors — namely the simultaneous rise and ubiquity of Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, along with the endless churn of the 24-hour news cycle — combined to create another hybrid vortex in which the virtual community experienced the storm both in seclusion and all together. We all watched through our screens first, interacting all the while, and out the window second.
- Extract from an article in New York Magazine by Joe Coscarelli
I refer to my .gifs as digital folklore because I see them as some kind of ancestral myth, some ancient ghost of the landscape; a story being told existing only in pixels, not truly real but as a kind of endlessly recurring glitch of our memory.