I was struck by the visual effect of a military thermal camera used in a video installation by an Irish artist Richard Mosse and cinematographer Trevor Tweeten. It anonimised and dehumanised the victims of Syrian crisis even further, stripping them of their individuality, presenting them as bodies and numbers in cold monochrome. Yet it also brought their aliveness out in an incomparable way. Sensitive to heat, this heavy-weight camera accentuates or invades the spirit of life and conflict more than any other technique could. Shots taken from great distances let us, the Western Audience, surveil the movements of people and events unfolding on the shores thousands of kilometers away from us.
Dawn Chorus, 2007, is a multi-screen film installation and presents 19 individuals using their own voices to recreate birdsong in everyday locations which is an accurate copy of the birdsong dawn chorus recorded in Northumberland, England. After recording the birds with multiple microphones, the individual birdsongs were slowed down to last approximately 16 times as long, which enabled the participants to imitate them, while being filmed. The films were then speeded back up to reach the true pitch of the birds, uncannily evoking similarities between bird and human vocal abilities and behaviour.
Wastelands is a contemporary Chinese art exhibition of installation, painting, sculpture and film presenting the works of eight artists who all have links to China. The exhibition explores the idea of ‘waste’ as a result of consumption through different landscapes and materials. Ranging from the ‘aesthetic debris’ in the work of Cai Yuan’s cardboard paintings installation to Cao Fei’s film ‘Haze and Fog’, a surreal and abject portrait of an excessively self-consuming Beijing in the form of a zombie movie. Featuring established artists such as the hugely significant figure of Ai Weiwei alongside artists with long-standing practices in the UK, it engages in themes around issues of neo-liberal ideologies, consumption, development and economies of culture.