How Will We Remember? is a programme of commissions from Open Eye Gallery and University of Salford Art Collection that seeks to identify gaps in the public consciousness around who is affected by the global health crisis, and create opportunities to document the lived experience of those who have found themselves especially vulnerable.
More info about the other artists in the project can be found on the University of Salford Art Collection website (link above).
Untitled GIF Originally commissioned by the University of Salford Art Collection and Open Eye Gallery, 2020.
Twitch, shift, jerk, slip, repeat. These are words that describe this series of GIFs made in response to the How Will We Remember? commission. They are also words that might summon up the now familiar feelings of dealing with life during a global pandemic.
The starting point for these digital works was the impact of Covid-19 on women. Research has shown that statistically women are more likely to suffer economically and many women have effectively been ‘re-traditionalised’ – confined to the domestic space of the home. But, we are all navigating unfamiliar terrains, constantly re-drawing our boundaries as our physical presence and visibility in the world continually slips and changes. Many of us find ourselves existing in an in-between place, somewhere between virtual and physical worlds, communicating through barriers, windows and screens and having to negotiate the unexpected materialities of this new space including the disruptive buffering, freezing and glitching of our virtual lives.
There is a feeling of being on the cusp; of being suspended between different spaces and states, and the feeling of fragmentation as we sit at home looking out of the window whilst our digital doppelgängers play in virtual space has informed my choice of using GIFs as the output for this commission. There is a feeling when you view the GIFs that their surfaces could slip at any moment. GIFs can make us loose the awareness of our own edges as we get sucked in to their never ending loop. The repetition, at first comforting, can quickly become uncomfortable. The analogies with our current situation don’t end there – GIFs are open, endlessly adaptable – and of course, they can go viral.
My use of paper and digital collage – an artistic method already associated with disorientation – when merged with the jerky animation caused by the GIF process, makes the original source photographs unfamiliar. Combining different digital and analogue textures and effects suggests uncontrolled slippages and uncanny movements. The five GIFs are all different yet similar motifs, colours and textures repeat and dissolve across all of them – a subtle acknowledgement of the repetition of daily life under lockdown and partial lockdown. The colour palette is subdued, monochrome at times, however the colour blue features most frequently as blue is the colour most associated with liminal states – it is the colour of twilight and also the colour associated with cleanliness and protection – disinfectant bottles, PPE gloves and masks. The recurring silhouette motif alludes to the continual multiplication and dematerialisation of our bodies, as we flit between different physical and virtual spaces and states and protect ourselves behind layers of surfaces and screens.