Visual Intelligences Research Project

Exhibitions : Inspiration To Order : Neil Boynton and Emma Rose

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The Making of Rush
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Boynton and Rose, Rush
installation at The Bargehouse, Oxo Tower, London

Neil Boynton (b. 1966) trained as a composer and clarinetist at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University. He has received awards from various funders including the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Arts and Humanities Research Board. As a musicologist, he has published on the work of Viennese composer Anton Webern, including notably an edition of Webern’s 1934–38 lectures Über musikalische Formen (Schott, 2002). His recent work as composer and director in collaboration with Emma Rose shows a particular interest in spatialization, digital audio and installation. Their works have been shown in national and international festivals and galleries, including transmediale05, Berlin,, Iceland, Seoul Net Festival, and the mac, Birmingham, AdHoc Gallery, Newcastle, the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, and Oxo Tower, London. Boynton has also worked with the Leeds-based contemporary performance group imitating the dog, composing the soundtrack for their latest work Hotel Methuselah, which toured the UK in spring 2006.

Emma Rose (b. 1962) is Professor of Contemporary Art at The Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts at Lancaster University. She studied as a postgraduate at Chelsea College of Art and after graduating became a Lecturer at Leeds University with many Visiting Lectureships at Universities, Colleges and Art Schools in the UK.  She has exhibited painting, drawing and printmaking and more recently experimental video with her collaborator Neil Boynton.  Recent solo exhibitions have been at the Surface Gallery, Nottingham, Hotbath Gallery, Bath, mac Birmingham, AdHoc Gallery, North Tyneside, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham. She has shown work made with Neil Boynton in many group exhibitions including 700IS Egilsstadir, international experimental video festival, Iceland, ‘BASICS’ – transmediale.05, international media art festival, Berlin, The Big Screen, Exchange Square, Manchester organised by The Cornerhouse in association with the BBC,  Beyond the senses, The Bargehouse, Oxo Tower, London, Royal Scottish Academy Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland. Her solo work has been shown widely including Jill George Gallery, London, The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, Paton Gallery, London, Angela Flowers Gallery, London, Concourse Gallery, Barbican Centre, London, The Rathaus, Dortmund, Germany, The Mall Gallery, London amongst many others.  She has curated shows on several occasions including Slow Burn: Meaning and Vision in Contemporary British Abstract Painting shown at the Mead Gallery, Warwick University, Scott Gallery, Lancaster University and Leeds Metropolitan University Art Gallery. She has received several prizes and awards such as The Lloyds Bank Printmaking Prize in association with The Royal Academy, London and an Arts and Humanities Research Board Leave Award.

Artists' Statement on Process: Rush

The Forêt des Landes in southwest France is an area of tall conifers growing on a sandy heath. When viewed from a fast moving car the tree trunks appear to move, sometimes they swirl and rotate in vertical bands producing a flickering, stroboscopic effect that disorients the eye and brain, not unlike the effect produced by British artist Bridget Riley in her black and white paintings. This optical effect was the central idea behind the production of the video. Many of the trees have few branches in their lower regions and this characteristic was intrinsic to the production of the effect—at dawn, for instance, the black trunks of the trees visible through the mist created a monochrome image comprising vertical stripes against a grey-white background. All the video of the forest was shot from a moving car, with the camera fixed to a tripod in the passenger seat: with this setup we sought to capture the effect in a variety of ways. During the editing process, some of the tendencies of the original footage were emphasized through digital processing, such as using short, repeating loops of film to enhance speed, rhythm and colour of the image flow. This is seen in conjunction with doubling and mirror effects across two screens, aiming to make less likely any naturalist interpretation, heightening the sense of reverie.

The audio serves primarily as a film-like soundtrack, drawing out moods and associations of the visual imagery. Recording the local sounds of waves crashing on the beach and the noise of cicadas in the forest was one way of underpinning the video's visual world. To the source sounds, additional recorded material was added, including the whooshing of blades from a wind farm, and the breath of a woman panting: these sounds all share similar sonic qualities, and the whole of the soundtrack is formed on the basis of this deliberately limited range of possibilities.

In reflecting on the process of collaboration, we recognised that working together made us articulate our ideas for the work earlier in the creative process. At times this meant that more ideas were tried, conversely, we were aware that time was needed for the gestation of ideas—a too hasty exposition might lead to the rejection of an idea. In our collaboration the individual input would be almost impossible to track and probably quite meaningless because we were both involved in decision-making in all areas of the work.

The journey conveys a fiction disrupted by the memories and the associations it provokes. By selecting and elaborating formal qualities, the film suggests a particular kind of visual experience of an artist or someone who is preoccupied by the structure or language of vision, not just things seen. Rush’s journey fuses reverie with abstraction, and culminates in the suggestion of a kind of hyperaesthetic fatigue. The viewer is finally uncertain whether it is hallucination, daydream or metaphor.  It concludes ambiguously with what may be a destination or just a temporary cessation of movement.