Three Floating Forms, 2013
3 channel video installation, silvered perspex sculptures, 2 channel sound installation, video projectors, hard drives, steel cable and
steel lighting support system. Created for Light Night Leeds in collaboration with the Church of St. John the Evangelist, Leeds. 4th October, 2013.
Three Floating Forms combines film, light and sculpture. This work, which is themed on circus, explores the idea of movement of form as a consequence of human intervention. The installation, which occupied the entire chancel space of the Church of St John the Evangelist, attracted over a thousand visitors on the night.
I researched this work by simply watching films of aerialist performances at circuses and training schools. I knew I wanted to make a piece of work that centres on high-wire acts but it was only when I looked closely that I began to be attracted to what was going on around the artists. What caught my attention was not what the performer was doing but how the complex array of wires, ropes and swathes of cloth reacted to the movement of the body. I wanted to capture this world on film and combine it with sculpture. Central to the work is the removal of human presence so that all that remains visible is the movement of material form as cloth or rope.
This is where the work is situated.
The work centres around three films that I made especially for the piece and which would eventually be joined in union with solid form at the church. The films were produced in collaboration with two professional aerialists and Greentop Community Circus School in Sheffield. Greentop were extremely generous in giving me exclusive use of their facility for a night. The aerialists performed a number of routines with trapeze, hoop and silks during which I focused almost entirely on the way in which the materials with which they were working moved. So that whilst the films convey a sense of the presence of the performer, it is their absence translated into a 'choreography' of the 'material' that forms the basis of the work.
The installation consisted of three sculptural forms made from perspex. The sculptures were suspended using steel cable and arranged side by side at varying heights form the floor. The closest to the floor was approximately 4 centimetres away. The films were projected down from above onto each sculpture. Each form comprised of two sheets of silvered perspex in the shape of a ‘T’, a flat horizontal plane acting as a screen whilst an intersecting vertical column underneath carried the projected image purely as light.
A key element of the work is the way in which light from the projected films activates the sculptures. The films were originally shot in colour but then graded into black and white during the editing process. I purposely filmed the aerialists in darkened conditions with them using only white ropes and cloth. This generated a very high contrast and luminance so that as the films were projected the sculptures reacted continuously, sometimes very rapidly, to the changes of light and dark.
I feel that this piece of work fitted beautifully into the interior of the church on Light Night. Although the work was seen only briefly for just a few hours it was enormously enjoyable for me to watch the reactions to it from the visitors on the night.