David Cotterell works with a range of media and technologies to explore the social and political tendencies of a world both shared and divided. He is particularly interested in the breaks and nuances in the human condition, that can lead to a less ambiguous understanding of the world we inhabit. Encapsulating the roles of programmer, producer, and director, David’s projects inhabit the quieter, less distinct arenas, which may (or may not) be understood more clearly in the future. David was commissioned to travel to Helmland province in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008, where he observed medical teams such as the Combat Medical Technicians of 40 Commando at work. He continues to return regularly to the region, considering the challenges to empathy that occur prior to the descent into the polarised engagement of military forces.
Santiago Sierra’s substantial body of work acts to reveal the perverse networks of power that inspire the alienation and exploitation of workers, the injustice of labour relations, the unequal distribution of wealth produced by capitalism, the deviance of work and money, and the racial discrimination clearly evident in a world scored with unidirectional (south-north) migratory flows.
Ilona Broeseliske calls her practice P.P.P. (Petrified Porcelain Poetry) and compares her work with 3D line drawings which have escaped out from sheets of white A4 copy paper and ’become stone’. Scale plays an important role in her work, her sculptures being no larger than the human head. Through tactility, a highly-finished surface and almost engineering-level precision she calls the observer to come closer, inviting an intimate engagement with her work.
Theo Turpin’s work explores how history, language, narrative and romance combine to make ideal and idealised space. His sparse compositions of juxtaposed material explore fundamental social narratives, which he proposes are being constantly constructed and edited around us in real time, particularly through ‘globally visible culture’, such as architecture, film and popular culture. His work includes collage, installation and audio work.
Mustafa Hulusi’s work combines a diverse series of references, including op art (optical art), Islamic art, advertising, and pop culture. Investigating how different visual “languages” shape our perception, his work explores the meaning of a publicised self and stardom. His work refers heavily to his Cypriot heritage, a combination of Middle Eastern and Western history. He often raises questions about the role of institutions in the art world and established his reputation with an extended series of “guerrilla” campaigns in which he saturated East London neighbourhoods with leaflets and posters.
Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead work across video, sound, sculpture, installation and online space, using technology as a means to reformulate fundamental human questions for contemporary times. Over the last twenty years, they have produced a generous body of lyrical artworks that examine the changing socio-political structures of the Information Age. A particular focus is the ever closer connection of the digital and physical worlds, creating an additional geographical layer in our collective sensorium.
Max Colson uses photography, found images, computer-generated graphics and animation create prints, films and installations that explore the social and political aspects of architecture. Combining several strands of research, including the advertising of exclusive developments, the technical aspects of high-end architecture and online commentaries related to Britishness, his work disrupts and problematises the inherent utopian approach to architecture.
Lizzie Hughes makes meticulously detailed works that are often produced following long periods of obsessive research. Her approach to collecting and then structuring data has allowed her to remotely explore distant landscapes and briefly enter the private worlds of others. Her work provides an access to structures and networks so massive or complex that they defy comprehension, and while the obsessive act of making her work appears futile, something important is revealed.
Matthew Darbyshire’s work critically explores the language of design and the nature of consumerism and collecting; the way we amass objects for in our home, and what we think these objects say about us. Juxtaposing valuable collectors’ pieces and handmade sculptures with readily available high street items, his work succinctly questions the political and economic agendas that inform our taste and value judgements; a provocative repackaging of the homogenisation of contemporary design.
Jon Rafman makes environments, films, photographs, and sculptures that examine the blurring of the real and virtual. Much of his work focuses on melancholy in modern social interactions, especially within online communities and virtual realities, while still celebrating the beauty of these unique and often intimate expressions of self. As he says, “I’m with them, dancing in the shit.” An expression of solidarity with the virtual revellers who populate his work, from the denizens of Second Life to the furry fetishists of 4chan. Jon can be seen as a kind of amateur anthropologist, exploring the little-known subcultures of the deep web, pausing to sigh at the scenery of a virtual sublime. His work is made from a composite of materials, including video footage, images, texts and quotes that he encounters in his extensive internet research. Occasionally shocking and always engaging, his works force the viewer to enter into uncomfortable and unsettling psychological realms.
Marcia Farquhar works in performance, photography, painting, and object-making. Her site-specific works have been staged and exhibited internationally in museums, galleries, lecture theatres, kitchen showrooms, hotels, pubs, parks and leisure centres. Precariously balanced between the prescribed and the unpredictable - socially open, broadly embracing of circumstance, and resolutely focused in the live and unrepeatable moment, her performances make frequent and subversive use of popular cultural forms such as pop-psychology, TV cookery, the Punch & Judy show, the fashion catwalk and the guided tour. Her work is conceptual in nature, but deeply personal, drawing on personal observations and the intricacies of interacting in everyday life.
Adrian Lee works in video, performance, and sculpture, re-examining and reworking the overlooked trappings of our culture in an investigation of the processes of communication and persuasion used on domestic and international scales. Isolating and dismantling devices including government health warnings, health & safety signage and bureaucratic small print, multinational corporate advertising and brand mascots, he probes their function, reorganising familiar rhetoric and disrupting assumed authority. Adrian is fascinated by the way people attempt to define themselves through the things they purchase, what they believe and what they are told. In this world of hi-viz, feedback and data release forms, we collude in our own manipulation by becoming devotees of product designers, advertising executives, spin-doctors, and charlatans.
London Fieldworks, formed in 2000 by artists Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson, is a collaborative practice working across social engagement, installation, architecture, video, and animation, situating works both in the gallery and the landscape. Looking for and thinking about correspondences between landscape and imagination has led to an interest in the idea of fieldwork as artistic practice. Projects have been developed in remote sites such as Northeast Greenland, the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, and East Iceland, as a way of generating material through an open-ended, extempore, creative enquiry based on people, things, and phenomena rooted in a particular place. Subsequent multi-media projects have created speculative works of fiction out of a mix of ecological, scientific and pop-cultural narratives, exploring themes of suspended animation, technology, fantasy, and death.
Christopher MacInnes works across computer-generated animation, installation, sculpture, and computer programming, drawing on visual languages from consumer technology, the corporate web, and science fiction. Through the creation of immersive environments, he explores the heavy infrastructure of information based cultures, contrasted against the glossy hyper-texture of our luxury-tech devices, articulating the practice and nature of being human in a simultaneously industrial and intangible environment.
Roxanne Gatt, also known by the pseudonym Roxman Gatt, works with video, performance, photography, painting, text, and CGI. Roxman’s research explores sexuality, identity, consumer culture, and the position of women within popular culture and consumption. Mundane aesthetics and the internet become both a tool and a trigger to produce work. Roxman is interested in capturing and communicating aspects of own intimacy and approaches art as a form of sexual and emotional healing. The aesthetic qualities of authentic emotions and real relationships, including love and friendship, as well as encounters with strangers is a crucial part of Roxman’s practice. ®egistered ©opies™ is a collective set up by Roxman with fellow artist Charlott-Maeve Perret in 2014 and is an online platform exploring the area between the bedroom, gallery and online shop.
Shayna Fonseka’s work explores the ideas of the ‘alternate present’ and digitisation. Her work focuses on a fictionalised, ‘trans-naturistic’ realm, a place where nature has grown beyond its environmental and physical limitations and organisms disguise themselves within untouched lands. Using paint, plasticine and other tangible, pliable materials, she constructs images and sculptural artefacts ‘taken’ from this realm, often ‘re-digitising’ them, creating a further windowing layer between our reality and hers.
Working with photographic commissions, residencies and exhibitions, paula roush is interested in the intersection of photographic research and the materiality of paper-based publishing. Her photobook works are photo-textual narratives tracing place, memory and identity. paula's long term research project, the Found Photo Foundation, examines the collecting, archiving and publishing of orphan photography, and she is also the founder of the photobook publishing platform msdm. paula typically stylises her name in lower case to avoid hierarchy.
Dave Beech, Andy Hewitt, and Mel Jordan are the three members of the Freee art collective. Freee uses manifesto, spoken choir, kiosk and bodily endorsement of slogan to attempt to form community through the declaration of agreement and disagreement. They use kiosks to assemble groups of people around ideas which are published on badges, clothing, and signage. Conceiving of publics through techniques that derive from montage: cutting, pasting, rearranging, splitting and joining, their work explores how individuals and groups can be temporarily cut out of the community and pasted into new configurations, rearranged through discursive processes of splitting and joining (disagreeing and agreeing) and then reassembled in a new totality through acts of collective publishing. They are preoccupied with the idea of ‘the collective’ and methods for us to all act more collectively within the public domain.
Jonathan Trayner’s work explores the relationship between, technology, image, and political subjectivity. His work is performative and driven by a thread of serious research that is played off against the surreal and the ridiculous. This is a response to what he sees as an unresolved issue within art, of it being both a philosophical investigation into the structure of culture(s) and a form of gratification as either spectacle or fetishised object. One of his key sources of inspiration is The Twelve Articles of the Upper Swabian Peasants, a political manifesto from the German Peasants’ War of 1525 and one of the first secular manifestoes to receive widespread, print-based distribution, through which the peasantry presented their political desires in their own words and images.
In an age of continuous media coverage, the futility of trying to communicate the brutality of violent warfare with representational imagery has led Antonia McDonald to use objects rather than images to trigger an empathetic response towards victims of conflict. Her work uses high-explosives as both a metaphor for, and very visceral connection with, the ongoing state-sanctioned warfare, insurgency and terrorism taking place in numerous locations around the world. In an ongoing collaboration with the UK Defence Academy, she partially destroys home-produced knitted garments, seeing them as very tangible connections to the body that simultaneously symbolise the integrated, interwoven communities that are also being destroyed by such conflicts.
Shinji Toya’s sees his work as a multi-media poetry, which includes painting, video, programming and installation. He is interested in how digital technology can be used as a catalyst to interrogate cultural discourse. He is interested in the idea of digital life, the immortality of digital memory, and the precarious nature of identity within the digital realm.
Louise Long’s work centres around site-based research, making, and re-telling, in relation to the natural and man-made environment. Exploring photography and alternative forms of image making, her work attempts to reflect both the materiality of a place and the less visible narratives beneath its surface. The handcrafted is interwoven with the archival, the psychological with the historical, and the philosophical with the geological and archaeological.
Rod Dickinson’s works are research-driven, exploring various mechanisms of social and digital control, and how we as individuals and groups interact with them. His projects critically reflect on both the focus of their enquiry and on their own construction, revealing how interaction is often unconscious, as people perform pre-prescribed roles. Many of his projects have utilised methods of reconstruction and re-staging, focusing on historical objects and events that have clear parallels with the present.
Ruby Rossini is a photographer. Her work explores the convention of boundaries, their limits and contradictions, articulated through an investigation of material, and in particular the interaction between the natural and the man-made. As one material acts upon another, a physical and conceptual displacement occurs, the original context lost, the two zones combining and becoming ‘other’.
Tristan Hessing’s work incorporates darkroom photography, 8mm film, sculpture, and installation. Typically monochromatic and process driven, his work explores surface, geometry and place. The presence of his work is peripheral, providing a subtle arrival at a set of ideas, and hiding a meticulous and controlled process of trial and error. At the core of his work lies an enquiry into the way we interact with space and perceive our environment, brought about through subtle spacial interventions and manipulations and meticulous attention to detail. Tristan’s practice is informed by his many ongoing exchanges as part of his multiple roles as artist, gallerist, and studio owner. He co-founded Moot gallery in 2005, and this project evolved into One Thoresby Street, an artist’s studio complex, project space, and production facility, where he currently holds the position of director.
Jacob Farrell’s practice is comprised of two interconnected processes -making and writing - focused on an exploration of material transformation and embodiment. This has manifested as architectural-scale interventions, artist’s books, photographic assemblage and cast objects. Jacob works regularly with graphite, a material usually associated with pencils and so drawing, but in its powdered form; nocturnalising colour, reproducing the condition of twilight.