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Michael Snow: almost cover to cover

Michael Snow: almost cover to cover
Michael Snow: almost cover to cover
This exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of the work of one of the most influential figures in film, photography and conceptual art. Michael Snow has been producing seminal works since the 1960s, and he is perhaps best known for Wavelength (1967), which is one of the most influential experimental films ever made. He is an artist who has worked in a wide range of media, including film, photography, sculpture, painting, installation and sound, many of which are represented here.

Michael Snow’s primary concern is with the ideas surrounding perception and the role of the viewer in relation to a given object or image. The works draw attention to the gaps between an object and its representation. He is very interested in the processes that are involved in the creation of a filmic image, of representation of an image, in terms of time, light, sound, cropping, projection and illusion.

Once you have negotiated the fan, camera and light in the entranceway to gallery space (these form part of a piece entitled Video Fields that you can see fully in Gallery 3, and is described in more detail later on in this Guide.) One of the first works that can be seen in Gallery 1 is Authorization (1969). In this, the artist photographed himself and then placed the photograph on the mirror, repeating this process until his own reflection disappeared, resulting in the final photo in the top left hand corner in which he is totally obscured. This work highlights the process involved in the making of the work, and can draw comparisons with the process of film making. Also included in this gallery space are many other important early works from the late 60s and early 70s, such as Blind, Atlantic and Sight (all from 1967). These show a fascination with themes of depth and flatness, framing and field of vision. For example the four layers in the sculpture Blind are based on four stages of a film’s fade-out and can be viewed from outside and inside. (Gallery visitors can walk inside of the sculpture in order to see the full visual effect.) The grids overlap and provide the viewer with differing layers on which they can concentrate and focus. Sight also gives the viewer a frame through which to concentrate their gaze and to re-evaluate what lies beyond the frame.

Gallery 2 shows a mixture of works from varying stages of Snow’s career. There are some seminal early works from 1964-65 from the ‘Walking Woman’ series (ie. Morningside Heights, Seen, Test Focus Field Figure, Hawaii). This series was based on the same stylised drawing that Snow made and then re-used in various media (including paintings, sculpture, photography and film) between 1961-67. The image is always cropped in some way, and used as a repetitive motif through which to explore many different ideas of flatness and illusion. Another key work in this room is Venetian Blind from 1970, in which the artist can be seen photographing himself as he travels around Venice. He repeatedly photographed himself at arms length with his eyes shut, thereby making himself ‘blind’ to the photographic process taking place.

At the far end of Gallery 2 is That/Cela/Dat (2000), a recent work that explores another one of the recurrent themes in Snow’s work - that of ‘language’. It consists of texts displayed simultaneously in English, French and Dutch. Snow has described this works as follows, “Sentences are presented on the screen, one word at a time and always within the same framing limits. One word at a time emphasises the pictorial nature of the projection and makes for a spectatorial participation in the nuances of the work’s timing and a prophetic participation in what might be coming next”.

In Gallery 3 is a new work entitled Video Fields, which has been commissioned especially for this exhibition. When you entered the building initially you would have confronted by a fan, a bright photographic light and your movements would have been recorded by the camera. This image has then been relayed to the first projection in Gallery 3, but the transmission has been delayed by several minutes. This image of people being buffeted by the artificial wind of the fan is then placed in conjunction with images of fields of grasses being similarly buffeted by actual wind. Both the figures and the landscape are being subjected to an invisible force that changes their appearance.

Next to this new work is a slide projection piece entitled Recombinant (1992) in which a wooden panel has been incised and painted. Onto this wall-panel a series of slide images are projected. There are some recognisable images, but the overall impression is of a dialogue between organic and geometric forms, and between painting and sculpture.

Lying just beyond Recombinant in the small room at the far end of Gallery 3 is Egg (1985). Given the ideas explored previously it is not surprising that Snow has experimented with the use of Holography. This holographic work explores further the themes of illusion and reality. A real object is brought into direct contact with the illusion, and reinforces the contrast between flat space and three-dimensional space
film, photography, conceptual art, installation, sculpture, painting, sound, time, light, projection, illusion
Foster, Stephen
371e9f3d-15f4-44b6-b6c0-75680105d41e

(2002) Michael Snow: almost cover to cover.

Record type: Art Design Item

Abstract

This exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of the work of one of the most influential figures in film, photography and conceptual art. Michael Snow has been producing seminal works since the 1960s, and he is perhaps best known for Wavelength (1967), which is one of the most influential experimental films ever made. He is an artist who has worked in a wide range of media, including film, photography, sculpture, painting, installation and sound, many of which are represented here.

Michael Snow’s primary concern is with the ideas surrounding perception and the role of the viewer in relation to a given object or image. The works draw attention to the gaps between an object and its representation. He is very interested in the processes that are involved in the creation of a filmic image, of representation of an image, in terms of time, light, sound, cropping, projection and illusion.

Once you have negotiated the fan, camera and light in the entranceway to gallery space (these form part of a piece entitled Video Fields that you can see fully in Gallery 3, and is described in more detail later on in this Guide.) One of the first works that can be seen in Gallery 1 is Authorization (1969). In this, the artist photographed himself and then placed the photograph on the mirror, repeating this process until his own reflection disappeared, resulting in the final photo in the top left hand corner in which he is totally obscured. This work highlights the process involved in the making of the work, and can draw comparisons with the process of film making. Also included in this gallery space are many other important early works from the late 60s and early 70s, such as Blind, Atlantic and Sight (all from 1967). These show a fascination with themes of depth and flatness, framing and field of vision. For example the four layers in the sculpture Blind are based on four stages of a film’s fade-out and can be viewed from outside and inside. (Gallery visitors can walk inside of the sculpture in order to see the full visual effect.) The grids overlap and provide the viewer with differing layers on which they can concentrate and focus. Sight also gives the viewer a frame through which to concentrate their gaze and to re-evaluate what lies beyond the frame.

Gallery 2 shows a mixture of works from varying stages of Snow’s career. There are some seminal early works from 1964-65 from the ‘Walking Woman’ series (ie. Morningside Heights, Seen, Test Focus Field Figure, Hawaii). This series was based on the same stylised drawing that Snow made and then re-used in various media (including paintings, sculpture, photography and film) between 1961-67. The image is always cropped in some way, and used as a repetitive motif through which to explore many different ideas of flatness and illusion. Another key work in this room is Venetian Blind from 1970, in which the artist can be seen photographing himself as he travels around Venice. He repeatedly photographed himself at arms length with his eyes shut, thereby making himself ‘blind’ to the photographic process taking place.

At the far end of Gallery 2 is That/Cela/Dat (2000), a recent work that explores another one of the recurrent themes in Snow’s work - that of ‘language’. It consists of texts displayed simultaneously in English, French and Dutch. Snow has described this works as follows, “Sentences are presented on the screen, one word at a time and always within the same framing limits. One word at a time emphasises the pictorial nature of the projection and makes for a spectatorial participation in the nuances of the work’s timing and a prophetic participation in what might be coming next”.

In Gallery 3 is a new work entitled Video Fields, which has been commissioned especially for this exhibition. When you entered the building initially you would have confronted by a fan, a bright photographic light and your movements would have been recorded by the camera. This image has then been relayed to the first projection in Gallery 3, but the transmission has been delayed by several minutes. This image of people being buffeted by the artificial wind of the fan is then placed in conjunction with images of fields of grasses being similarly buffeted by actual wind. Both the figures and the landscape are being subjected to an invisible force that changes their appearance.

Next to this new work is a slide projection piece entitled Recombinant (1992) in which a wooden panel has been incised and painted. Onto this wall-panel a series of slide images are projected. There are some recognisable images, but the overall impression is of a dialogue between organic and geometric forms, and between painting and sculpture.

Lying just beyond Recombinant in the small room at the far end of Gallery 3 is Egg (1985). Given the ideas explored previously it is not surprising that Snow has experimented with the use of Holography. This holographic work explores further the themes of illusion and reality. A real object is brought into direct contact with the illusion, and reinforces the contrast between flat space and three-dimensional space

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 2002
Additional Information: Curated with Catsu Roberts. Collaboration with Arnolfini, Bristol. Toured to Canada House, London. Commissioned work. Funded by Arts Council, England & Canadian High Commission.
Keywords: film, photography, conceptual art, installation, sculpture, painting, sound, time, light, projection, illusion
Organisations: Faculty of Humanities, Professional Services

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 355970
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/355970
PURE UUID: 33c318f3-bb41-4c6a-b9bb-19436a668e18

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 06 Dec 2013 14:18
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 03:42

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Contributors

Curator of an exhibition: Stephen Foster

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