PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION OF JIN JIANGBO & TIM GRUCHY
Artists : Jin Jiangbo : Tim Gruchy
Curator : Su Dan
Academic : Gu Zheng
Academic assistant : Zhou Lan : Gao Shanshan
Ex-curator : Jiangli
Duration : Sep.30,2011 — Oct.30,2011
Opening reception : Sep.30,2011 16:00
Exhibition Venue : 4-Face Space Gallery
Address : No.2 Road 798 Art Zone Jiuxianqiao Road Chaoyang Distrist
P.C : 100015
Tel : 010-59789608/59789609
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : www.artm4.org
Tim Gruchy 3/8/2011
The concept of nature is a cultural construct, part of the process
through which human beings seek to understand the planet earth and
our relationship to it.
For this exhibition I have chosen to study some differences we bring
to this understanding from perspectives of China and New Zealand.
Both countries have very differing environments, histories and cultural
perspectives on 'nature' and thus lend themselves acutely to an exploration
of this kind at the present moment. New Zealand has in the past
successfully promoted itself as '100% pure' and as an untouched-by-mankind
environment. This is in fact far from the truth despite it's unique
and extraordinary landscape. China on the other hand with its' enormous
history of civilisation, has had time to gradually transform its landscape
to its' cultural and economic will.
Physical and psychological immersions have always been a strong character
within my practice.
We live our lives surrounded by exteroceptive input of every form.
To navigate this sensorium we narrow down our attention. Consciously,
but more often unconsciously, we position ourselves deftly within
the narrowest slipstream of information, rarely stopping to think
how our physical and cultural positions in the world imbue the very
reality we construct as our day to day existence. This position establishes
a feedback loop that exists between what we perceive and how we are
able to perceive it.
My interests lie not in the singular focus but in the mediated experience.
One defined by my subjective view, but simultaneously defining an
experiential dialogue between the work and its audience.
This body of work seeks to explore layering, occlusion and the variant
points of view that we bring to our reading of nature.
It broadly falls into three categories:
First, landscapes that are stitched together from a large number of
photographic stills, seeking to convey something of the action inherent
in each view. Each has been manipulated through a series of complex
hand-effecting and retouching techniques to subtly shift focus and
attention and alter the textural qualities of the image.
The second addresses the multiple views that comprises a panorama,
however instead of being stitched horizontally, they are overlaid
on each other and presented within a regular photographic aspect ratio
format, to explore concepts of layering, revealing and the simultaneous
processes of perception.
Thirdly there is an interactive digital work that responds to the
audiences' position within the gallery. This work explores our relationship
to the act of viewing and how position determines what and how we
Accompanying the exhibition is an original soundscape that evokes
the idyl of nature.
for 4 Face Space, Beijing
Tim Gruchy interviewed by Rhana Devenport
The experiential possibilities of creating immersive environments
incorporating the moving image have absorbed New Zealand-based artist
Tim Gruchy for nearly three decades. He has worked primarily in the
fields of synaesthesia and experimental performance, moving into opera
and contemporary music collaborations. In more recent years his work
has concentrated on the articulation of installations involving video
and interactivity. For Beijing, Gruchy has distilled those interests
into complex photographic works that address the ‘natural’
environment. These works highlight the artist’s interests in
perception as both a sensorial process and as a culturally-formed
Rhana Devenport: You have steadfastly dedicated yourself to experimentation
in the field of expanded video since the 1980s, how have these interests
and experiences informed your current photographic work at this moment
Tim Gruchy: I see all of my work in the same flow of practice and
still cameras have always been an important element in my suite of
tools. Though primarily known for my moving image work, I see it as
perfectly logical to express my concerns as still images and have
always resisted the pressure to work within any one medium. Exploring
temporal and spatial dislocations is consistent with my interests
and in these photographic works I have developed a series of techniques
that takes them away – temporally and spatially – from
standard single shutter photographs towards a static image that still
conveys spatiality, a sense of time shifting, and subtle layered abstraction.
RD: You sometimes describe yourself as a visual musician, can you
speak about the role of the soundtrack you have created to accompany
the photographic prints?
TG: My work has always involved sound and vision. I have always been
very interested in working with vision in a musical way and music
in a visual way, thus it seems natural that I would have a sound component
to accompany the work. The sound component is a means to heighten
the immersiveness of the viewer experience within the conceptual framework.
By its inclusion, the soundscape immediately hastens and deepens the
audience’s perceptual engagement with the work.
RD: Can you talk about the subtle manipulations you bring to the final
TG: I am not interested in photo-realism, the aspect of the work that
interests me is about ways of viewing and perception. Although we
like to think of our visual reality as a cohesive whole, it is actually
a construct of shifting attention and focus augmented through time,
overlayed by cultural and physical realities. Along with spatial and
temporal stitching, I have undertaken multiple layers of digital and
hand-worked effecting, both globally and regionally within the image,
to move it away from reality in an irregular and diverse way. Importantly,
it also alludes to memory, as over time our mental image of a scene
changes and becomes distorted.
RD: Why a 360¾ view? How does the work relate to your recent interactive,
multi-screen, 360¾ video installation, Clesthyra’s Undoing for
the Taichung Asian Art Biennial?
TG: I have been working with expanded cinema and immersive environments
for a very long time. 360¾ is the logical extension point of this
approach. With these photographs I am unfolding these views back into
a two-dimensional plane as a way of representing them in a fixed way,
unlike my interactive moving image installations, such as Clesthyra’s
Undoing (CU) 2009 or Museum of Dreams 2004, which offer the audience
a truly immersive physical environment within which to experience
In the case of CU, which comprises a 14 metre diameter cylindrical
screen space, the audience is not only surrounded by the moving image
and multichannel sound, but their movement within the space is monitored
and controls aspects of what occurs on the screen. Museum of Dreams
is a booth environment within which a smaller audience is partially
surrounded by screen space and a surround sound system.
My recent still image works in this current exhibition and my light
box works for Invisible City seen at Shanghai Metro Station in 2010,
both utilise 360¾ panoramic content and are both ways of manifesting
temporality and spatiality in an unorthodox fixed way.
RD: You were born in Wales and grew up in Australia, your father was
born in India and your mother in Canada, can you talk about your ideas
about place, in particular about New Zealand and China, and how they
have informed this work?
TG: Given my background and ideology, nationalism has never had strong
appeal for me. Perhaps this has given me an outsider’s view
of other cultures and allowed me to look at cultures in a fresh way.
Similarly, having spent my childhood in rural Australia with its vast
tracks of untouched landscape meant that I grew up with a very peculiar
understanding of what nature was. Now living in New Zealand, I understand
the concept of nature to be very different and in fact the perception
of nature as ‘100% Pure’ [the trademark of a successful
international tourism campaign for New Zealand] could not be further
from the truth. Though unarguably spectacularly beautiful, New Zealand
is none the less a landscape hugely effected by the relatively short
period of human habitation. Notions of nature in China, given its
vast history, have another entirely different meaning with its complex
history and massive population, all Chinese countryside has been shaped
by cultural concerns and human touch. This understanding of nature
is of interest to me, and in this new work I seek to create representations
of nature that allude to these concerns.
RD: Has making these photographic works shifted your conception of,
or feeling for, the natural environment in New Zealand or China?
TG: Making these works has further heightened and focused my perception
of the environment around me and just what it is we call ‘nature’.
I now understand nature more as a cultural construct than as an idealised
absolute. These constructs take on different qualities in different
countries, the differences between New Zealand and China being particularly
interesting for me.
New Zealand is very fortunate to be a place in the world that still
possesses apparently pristine countryside, but much of it is actually
under threat. I do think people need to see the reality of what is
actually happening and the threats that nature is under. Complacency
is no defence. China has acute environmental problems but I am heartened
to see the growing awareness of environmental issues. There is much
to be done and there is a huge ability to harness resources once a
clear direction is charted.
RD: There are about 52 billion photographs taken each year in the
world. There is a tremendous challenge for photography to earn value
and meaning in our heavily mediated and digitally distributed environment.
Why do you use a camera?
TG: Over my career all technologies have evolved tremendously particularly
since the digital revolution, at the same time their usage has evolved
as well. I have always tended to use the tools at my disposal in unorthodox
ways that push and extend the boundaries of popular usage. This body
of work is just another example of that practice. A camera is just
a tool, albeit hugely popular at this point in history. It is what
one chooses to do with that material, and the conceptual motivations
and frameworks that inform it, that imbue outcomes with value.
RD: Why do you make art?
TG: I have no choice; it is always something I have felt compelled
to do which is now part of my very being. I had a clear conception
very early in my life of the creative direction I wanted to pursue.
I spent the early part of my practice learning a broad skill set to
achieve that direction. Now I feel that I am able to bring tremendous
complexity, subtlety and hopefully a poeticism within a broad longstanding
set of conceptual concerns. Hopefully the outcomes – that now
embrace a range of mediums – touch the broadest range of audiences
possible. Whilst being easily approachable, they provide a depth for
those who wish to engage further. Above all else, I appreciate the
privileged position that being an artist allows me, and seek though
my work to be a positive if critical force.
Devenport is Director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in Taranaki,
New Zealand. She worked with the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary
Art at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane for ten years and with
the 2006 Biennale of Sydney and the 2004 Sydney Festival on a project
with Nam June Paik. Her recent project China in Four Seasons was a
year-long project involving artist residencies and exhibitions by
Jin Jiangbo, Guo Fengyi, Zhang Peili, Yin Xiuzhen and Song Dong.
The interview took place on 5, 6 September in New Plymouth, New Zealand.