Graduated from University College Falmouth
Selected by Patrick Lowry
Paint Can, Reflecting, 2008
My playful alchemy explores the complimentary relationships between observation and the imagination, the physical and the ethereal.
The act of looking can be analytical or receptive and I feel projection is a medium with which I can explore these different ways of seeing. When observing something for the first time we instinctively draw connections between independent elements and their context. Memories, presumptions and our imagination are called upon to instill meaning and relevance through narrative and definition. Only with slowness and a more contemplative headspace can a more receptive gaze be achieved.
Over the past years I have worked as an VJ and AV technician for music and arts events and had become frustrated by the resolution and the light quality created by video projection. The use of digital technologies often seems to distance the viewer from the process.
Research this year has led me into the world of Phantasmagoria and pre-cinema projection techniques. I was drawn to the apparatus and light sources used in 18th and 19th centuries from simple candle lit white-shadow projection to candle, gas and limelight powered Magic Lanterns, Fantascopes and Megascopes. Looking at devices from this period, I can sense the wonder felt at the first use of chemical, optical and electrical processes that we now take so for granted. The complex evolution of these technologies and our familiarity with them has led to detachment from the forces at work.
In my work I wish to reveal the process and recreate some of the sense of wonder. I have drawn upon simple projection methods that are direct and transparent and have made assemblages that involve subtle, dynamic processes.
The projections exist in the present time with no recording or representation. The rough and mundane is elevated through the play of light. When an object becomes purely a reflection of light, detached from its context, one can look anew, unburdened by knowledge or experiences; perception without judgement. The image is de-located, hypnotic and other-worldly.
All MA Shows have their good and not-so-good years, and this year, for the renamed Fine Art MA at University College Falmouth, seemed to be a good one. In the light of this, to put forward a favourite choice based on a work that focuses on presenting us with a 2.5 litre, empty paint can, might seem a bit of a contradiction. But, in Rod Maclachlan's hands, this normally-discarded, by-product of other endeavours, has become a magical object.
Against a backdrop of increasingly sophisticated use of digital media in the realisation of artworks, Maclachlan has put his efforts into re-visiting and exploring the lost wonder of earlier technology. Maclachlan states that he is exploring the relationships between observation and the imagination, the physical and the ethereal, and in this work that is exactly what has been achieved. Here he uses a form of camera obscura where his subject, in this case a paint can, is set up and illuminated in one room, and, with the use of a substantial lens, is projected through a hole in the wall to an adjacent darkened space. Whilst this sounds unremarkable, Maclachlan's execution, attention to detail, and choice of subject matter, has resulted in the production of a very captivating work. The can, a metal one, with its distinctive, shiny, concentric corrugations on the base, lies on its side on a slowly rotating platform. When projected as a large image, the glinting disk of the base becomes slowly eclipsed by the oddly fascinating, partially paint-obscured, text on the side of the can. This text is, in its turn, consumed by the dark void of the can's interior as the open top rotates into focus. The image's real and palpable presence reminds one of how used we have become to viewing so much of the world though a patina of pixilation, and how some of the pre-digital image-making processes hold particular qualities that still, at least in Maclachlan's hands, have something further, and interesting, to say.
(Patrick Lowry, 2008)
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