You can’t know me, I’m over there

You can’t know me, I’m over there

Exploring personal barriers, isolation and the universal desire to be accepted. Still images taken from a photographic installation piece; plus recently published book (Further details below)

You can’t know me, I’m over there

Photographic installation piece
Floating hand-cut C-type prints
Boxed-framed 1524mm X 605mm

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A unique and natural beauty disrupted and fragmented by the equally singular and individualistic artist ink, offers up a personal self-determined boundary. A confident barrier that outwardly speaks of a yearning for isolation – to hide, to deflect, to protect; whilst also one that conversely calls out for a reveal – to be found, to be discovered, to be accepted.

This personal tension to protect and to promote is familiar to most. Leave me be. See me. Below the surface perhaps a secret fear that we are unknowable; or indeed a greater one that maybe no one wants to know.

In creating the installation piece You can’t know me, I’m over there, I wanted to explore and address a few elements; both from within the image themselves, and from without regarding the nature of the photographic image. From within the images, I wanted to create a piece that offered a potential ‘barrier to view’. The size & scale of the piece refuses to be seen all in one go. However the barriers of narrative contained within the single image are concurrently removed through the very same size, scale and number of images. The Oriental art tradition of creating an image that unfolds itself to the inquisitive eye, one that has a slow reveal, seemed the most apt and fitting approach for both subject and presentation.

My challenge with the photographic image per se, is two fold. First is it’s properties of replication. It can be replicated, repeated & reprinted ad infinitum with indiscernible differences from one copy to another. The very idea that there could be a copy needed to be addressed. As with the subject and context, this piece is unique. Hand-cut floating tiles, housed within a ‘found’ and adapted wooden box-frame sets a canvas backdrop that simply can never be repeated. Although the processes at work draw upon a heritage of film and the cinematic, what was to be left is more rooted in the theatrical.

Secondly, Hockney has spoken of the ‘temporal stinginess’ of the photographic image. Both the instantaneous nature of creating the photograph, and the viewer of the image are both left in a moment without time. Whereas the painting may have subtle deeper ambiguities, requiring the viewer to return and explore, the single photographic image lives in a controlled space that reveals little narrative. This can of course be its greatest strength. The artist has control and therefore can disrupt the full narrative as so desired, leaving the viewer free to explore their own interpretation. However if the viewer is so free, or arguably disenfranchised that they can not re-inhabit the image, there is potentially no reason to remain. They have in fact been dis-empowered.

Certainly in terms of both influence and presentation, Hockney’s photo collages were an inspiration; not least that of the actress Theresa Russell, titled Nude. Similarly both Steve Pyke’s Acts of Memory and Composites series were in my mind, although I sought less chaos from the former and less archive from the latter respectively. However I also wanted there to be a three-dimensionality to the work. The floating, over laid tiles reflect similar oriental practices found in the vernacular architecture.

You can’t know me, I’m over there is very physical and yet it seems impossibly light. There is an intended sense of a flowing, irregular movement and a pattern that complements the reveal as the viewer explores her.

She is unique. She can never be replicated.

Michael C Hughes


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The book contains some images from the final installation piece, plus additional material.