Commissioned by Deadly Ponies.
James Wylie and Hannah Valentine are both interested in the extension of human beings beyond our immediate physical bodies and surroundings. Wylie has created a video informed, in part, by Valentine’s installations, which have for some years now played with notions of ‘physical education’, incorporating sculptural forms reminiscent of exercise equipment (and often designed to be engaged with in a similar manner). A computer-generated figure works out in a sky-bound space at once seductively and eerily immaculate. This ‘footage’ is paired with outdoor scenes that are manifestly unnatural, evoking by turns an invented environment of the sort one might find in a sci-fi movie or video game, and a terrain emptied of people but bearing their traces. It is perhaps less unreal than not yet real.
Valentine’s contribution quite literally supports Wylie’s. Two arm-like structures wrap around the screen on which the video loops, facilitating but also slightly interfering with its visibility. A foam sheet (not dissimilar to a yoga mat) beneath has been printed with a bird’s-eye view of the world created by Wylie, rupturing the boundary between virtual and physical space. The two artists and their practices have become intertwined in much the same way as our lives have with digital technologies. Although Wylie and Valentine appear invested in the value of the non-digital (encouraging us to engage with the world tangibly within our reach), they also suggest that reality and its borders are in flux and up for negotiation.
James Wylie is based in Tāmaki Makaurau. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts and was co-founder of the artist-run space Snake Pit. His work centres on questions of technological progress, promoting reflection in a time of rapid change. Recent exhibitions include: ぐるぐると登り続けること (round and round, up and up), Studio Kura, Itoshima, Japan, 2018; Offline Browser, 6th Taipei International Video Art Exhibition, Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, 2018; and Sometime, someday, when all is said and done, RM Gallery, Auckland, 2019.
Hannah Valentine holds a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts. Her practice explores questions of the body, movement, and participation. Recent exhibitions include: New Perspectives, Artspace, Auckland, 2016; Flex, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, 2017; and Looking in, breathing out, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, 2018.
Image: James Wylie, //drift (video still), 2019. Courtesy of the artist.