Ken Wilder and Aaron McPeake
Fig 1. The Practice Exchange 9: Spatial Resonance
In Attendance: Marsha Bradfield, Maria Kheirkhah, Ana Laura Lopex de la Torre, Aaron McPeake, Elizabeth Manchester, Hayley Newman, Caroline Rabourdin, Scott Schwager, Jim Threapleton, Charlotte Webb, Ken Wilder
In this session, Marsha set the context introducing the session through carrying forward the emphasis on the body and proximity from the previous session. In the sound and visually rich discussion that followed, we explored how one ‘fills in’ missing information in making and in viewing work. How one discusses their work, particularly video, impacts reception, critical dialogue and future practice. We also discussed the body, shadows and scale, positioning, and absence in relation to cultural and religious custom, precedence and audience expectation; as well as the space around practice and pieces within it.
Fig 2. Ken Wilder, Aaron McPeake, Jim Threapleton, Caroline Rabourdin
Ken began highlighting the importance of proximity, the body and distance from the viewer. Showing a piece from 2003-2004, Milky Beuys, Ken conveyed how the screen becomes problematised as a material substance rather than plane and the decision to shoot in black and white, based on a blankness (absense).
Ken’s practice shifted away from (his study of architecture) through which figures importance increased in place of structures, whereby objects became supportive. What is the relation between the body and space? How does the viewer’s relationship with the figure change with distance and filters, such as glazing.
Most of Ken’s projections pieces are designed for spaces that are not blocked out and in this situation the environment appears as part of the piece. Video of a static figure breathing raised questions for the audience that a photograph would not. Is this because of the viewer’s expectations and surprise or because video allows them to get closer to the figure?
Fig 3. Caroline Rabourdin, Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre, Charlotte Webb, Marsha Bradfield
Aaron’s practice emerges from his earlier experience as a stage light designer and is a response to his going blind. A projection of brail shows the frustration of not seeing. Rather than the work is not driven by an interest in a lack or loss of vision this is what comes up.
The shadow can represent a lot of thing and Aaron uses it as a deliberate devise in his practice. Fluser’s comment that he doesn’t photograph what he sees but what he does not see is a useful metaphor for Aaron as he somewhat guesses what he’s photographing and finds out afterwards what’s there.
Aaron explained how the assumption of blindness as a darkness while the most common form is white blind highlighted the degree of imagination in conceptions including of conditions and within representation. If our visual interpretation relies on assumptions, how might our interpretation of what we believe we’ve seen change with these assumptions?
While Ken had described his shift in emphasis from object to figure, Aaron described his move into casting, as grieving method involving personal history. A bell tells time; it announces. Ken has expanded his universe with sound even while his vision is curtailed. In this light, what is the relationship between vision and sound?
Aaron posited that the role of our brain in the senses is extremely strong such that how your brain tells you something constructs how you see it. We color and fill in using our imagination.
There was a kind of alchemy in both the practices of Ken and Aaron. Both consider the viewer to a degree as the other, which for Aaron has a double meaning as he realizes he is ‘the other.’ The viewer signifies things that he remembers. The distance and lens of the viewer for Ken shape decisions on and how he talks about his practice. For each, the bell is memorable in another’s film. It has a sense of innocence and magic.
Fig 4. Hayley Newman, Ken Wilder, Aaron McPeake, Caroline Rabourdin, Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre, Jim Threapleton
Themes and questions to take forward:
Speaking about work: How one speaks to and about work, particularly video, shapes the viewers reception of the work as well as setting the context for subsequent critical engagement such as writing, dialogue, and potential other video. The ways of responding to one’s own work can open it up to others without over-determining its interpretation. The “figure" and how it figures into Ken Wilder’s practice and how he speaks about it provokes further thought which follows into Ken Wilder’s work.
“Filling in” missing information: “Filling in” missing data, such as sound in relation to shadows, creates the possibility for interests outside the audio visual language that is articulated. Research plays a large part in this. The comments re the sound in relation to the shadows and the Gestalt of "filling in" was especially interesting. For sure, "projection" will be a key theme, as it seems salient across the work of both Ken and Aaron.