Chris Welsby has been making and exhibiting work since 1969. His films and film/video installations have been exhijbited internationally, at major galleries such as the Tate and Hayward galleries in London, the Musée du Louvre and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
“In my single screen films and single channel videos the mechanics of film and video interact with the landscape in such a way that elemental processes—such as changes in light, the rise and fall of the tide or changes in wind direction—are given the space and time to participate in the process of representation. The resulting sequences of images make it possible to envisage a relationship between technology and nature based on principles other than exploitation and domination.
“The gallery installations deal with the transformations which occur when the non-Euclidean space of the landscape is imported into an architectural space based on the rules of geometry and perspective. The dimensions of the gallery, the size and scale of the image, the proportions of the video monitor or projection screen, the positioning of the monitors or screens, are primary considerations, and central to the meaning of the work. The fragmentation of image and sound, which characterises these installations, acknowledges the split between culture and nature but, at the same time, opens up the possibility of a less dualistic reading.
“Unlike the landscape painters and photographers of the nineteenth century, I have avoided the objective view point implicit in panoramic vistas or depictions of homogeneous pictorial space. I have instead concentrated on ‘close up’ detail and the more transient aspects of the landscape, using the flickering, luminous characteristics of the film and video mediums, and their respective technologies, to suggest both the beauty and fragility of the natural world.
“The process of re-presenting the landscape in either the single screen works or the installations is not seen to be separate from nature or in any way objective, but is viewed instead, as part of a more symbiotic model in which technology and nature are both viewed as inter-related parts of a larger gestalt.”
Chris Welsby, June, 2001
- Estuary (1980) 16mm, color, sound, 50'
Estuary was made during the three weeks between December 17th 1979 and January 6th 1980. The film was shot from a small cabin boat moored near the mouth of the Keyhaven River. This is a place known to me since my childhood and the location for several paintings, films, and photographic pieces.
The camera was fixed relative to the motion of the boat as it responded to the action of wind and tide. This resulted in the intermittent scanning of 360 degrees about the central axis provided by the mooring, and a periodic vertical motion of about eight feet due to the rise and fall of the tide. A four second section of the film was exposed every fifteen minutes between dawn and dusk. The “takes” themselves emphasise the variations in movement of the boat as it swung to and fro on its mooring. Changes of light and weather conditions, fluctuations in the height of the tide, and sudden changes in wind direction are accentuated by the intervals of these “takes.” Sound was recorded in the same way, and has been subsequently “cut” to respond to the picture track. The result of this procedure is a film which not only records the changes in light and weather over a period of three weeks, but also, in a very direct way, the interaction between the forces of winds and tide.
Screening format: HD 2K (New digital transfer courtesy of the BFI)
(Special thanks to Chris Welsby and William Fowler)