[ISEA97] Artist Statement: Kevin Atherton – GALLERY GUIDE

Artist Statement

Gallery Guide is a virtual reality performance that could not exist without computer technology however in the way that it operates in the time and place of its own performance it can be linked to earlier pre-computer work in the nineteen seventies and eighties, in film and film/ performance works, video and video performance pieces, and more recently in site specific public sculpture. All of these art forms can be used so that they require the viewer to re-negotiate their relationship with the work. In the case of the performance. Gallery Guide this “re-negotiation” is carried out through the performer in the role of a gallery guide who performs the task of taking an audience around an exhibition. The exhibition has been three dimensionally produced as a computer model and is simultaneously projected behind the performer who talks us through the show. As the “tour” progresses the performer provides us with animated expla-nations of what we see before us, the absurdity is that he is explaining the computer generated gallery and the works in it as if they were real and is consequently stretched to make sense of the phenomena that he encounters. By having to resort to physical reality for answers to what is found in the virtual gallery the performance inevitably makes reference to existing paradigms and aesthetics for art practice. It is within these references that a lot of the humor of the piece lies as the conceit of much contemporary art is made apparent and the role of “The Gallery” in sustaining this status quo is observed. If we are currently experiencing the equivalent of an Industrial Revolution the effects of which reach into all aspects of our collective and individual lives then “the gallery”cannot stay outside of these changes if it is to continue to consider it’s position in relation to society as significant. As levels of visual literacy rise through ease of access to computers so do audience expectations for visual art and what might be found in art galleries. The worlds of art, education, and entertainment are overlapping in a way that is creating a new media landscape it is the job of artists to be our “Guides” through this new landscape. lux.org.uk/work/gallery-guide

  • Kevin Atherton (UK). Born Isle of Man 1950. Educated Leeds Polytechnic Fine Art Department 1969-72. Since 1972 exhibited in many group exhibitions including: 1981, Video, Performance, Installation—Tate Gallery, London; 1982, The Sculpture Show, Hayward and Serpentine Galleries, London; 1984 1984: An Exhibition — Camden Arts Centre, London; 1984, The British Art Show ll, Major Arts Council survey show; 1986 Talking Back to the Media, Time Based Arts, Amsterdam; 1987, The British Edge Video Art Survey, Institute of Contempory Art, Boston, U.S.A; Individual Exhibitions and Commissions include: 1982, A Body of Work — sculpture commission, Langdon Park School London; 198?, Video Times, dual publication and installation, Ikon Gallery Birmingham; 1986 Platforms Piece —sculpture commission Brixton British Rail Station London; 1989, To The Top — sculpture commission Civic Centre Twickenham, London; 1995, A Private View —sculpture commission with optical elements Cardiff Bay, Wales. Recent Conference Participation: 1995 International Conference Organizer and Speaker, Virtual Reality and the Gallery, Tate Gallery, London; 1996 Artists and Designers Sketches, Siggraph 96, New Orleans. Currently Principle Lecturer in Fine Art and Research Team Leader in Virtual Reality as a Fine Art Medium, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London.