Dominic Harris Solo Show: ‘Moments of Reflection’ 18 September – 31 October 2015 Pho’s Art + Design, London
CURATED BY SARAH MYERSCOUGH
Dominic Harris’ exhibition, entitled ‘Moments of Reflection’, explores human perceptions and expressions of the self through the artist’s signature use of advanced digital technology. The interactive nature of his practice engages the viewer directly, who in turn becomes an active participant in the artwork and who through various visual, sonic and compositional devices is materialised within the work.
Exhibition View. Photo: Anna Arca
The exhibition will feature the seminal interactive piece Ice Angel, which was exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum as part of the London Design Festival in 2012. ‘Moments of Reflection’’s updated version of the artwork, which now includes interactively driven sound, re-enacts the youthful playfulness of creating snow angels through digital manipulations; the viewer therefore assumes the role of both the performer and the portrait subject. The viewer stands in front of Ice Angel looking out towards an audience; every arm movement creates angel wings dynamically lit on the screen behind. The artwork has a ‘memory’ so that the wings remain linked to that participant in any future encounters with the piece. Harris therefore transcends the often impersonal impression digital pieces can leave on the spectator or participant and creates a highly personal, self-reflective and emotional relationship to the work.
Dominic Harris ‘Baby Angel’ 2015. Photo: Anna Arca
The exhibition will also showcase the newly produced Baby Angel, which is a small-scale lighted Corian tablet that acts as a visual digital recording of an individual or family interaction with Ice Angel. The tactile, handheld piece is reminiscent of the traditional keepsake or locket that can be kept on a person at all times. It offers a very individual relationship to the work – a private visual whisper compared to its larger theatrical counterpart, one that is no longer shared with the gaze of an audience. The artist thereby ideates on how the concept of ‘the personal’ can successfully operate on both a spectacular public and intimate private level.
In the visually breathtaking works Conductor and Four States, Harris characteristically encourages a childlike enthralment for interaction and discovery. Additionally, Conductor’s use of a soundtrack that responds to the movement of the individual’s hands creates a dramatic and all encompassing interaction with the work. The use of sound in both Conductor and Ice Angel, which is inherent to the very structure of the artworks, has become a central compositional tool in the artist’s practice alongside the use of touch, movement and sight. He ultimately seeks to create a totally immersive sensory experience for the viewers that engage them both physically and emotionally.
Dominic Harris ‘Vanity Mirror 2015. Photo: Anna Arca
Vanity Mirror’s digital display thoroughly engages the viewer as it reflects his or her image back 180 times via embedded cameras in the screen. The piece is both absorbing and playful yet at the same time explores issues relating to the multiplicity of the image in contemporary society and by extension the notion of celebrity as self, which has been engendered through the rise of social media and digital cameras. Furthermore, Vanity Mirror visually realises the concept of the decentred and fragmented psyche within a digitally led, postmodern society. Ultimately, in his exhibition, Harris expands the notion of one’s ‘Moments of Reflection’ beyond the visual self. His work penetrates questions surrounding performance that can transcend an exterior act for others to access an emotional interiority, meaning that the work becomes a tool for self-reflexivity. The fact that his work directly involves the viewer – that it in essence cannot exist without the viewer – enacts a collaborative, participatory experience that reflects the artist’s highly collaborative practice, so that the artwork from inception, through fabrication to the final article is part of a process of meaningful social interaction. At the same time, Harris also considers critical questions regarding our relationship to the self in contemporary society, yet while doing so he never sacrifices what is characteristic to all of his artworks; essentially, a positive and fun experience for the viewer and participant and one that he or she can take outside of the gallery space and into the greater world.
Text by Freya Cooper Kiddie