How could a young man stare at the same thing for hours, days, years and never tire of it? Normally such a consistent and ongoing observation of a single subject would seem a form of madness. Yet the ocean has this effect on many people, not just those who are waiting for that one wave.
This work focuses on the ocean as an endless source of fascination. Although many have featured the allure of the ocean, this work deals with specifics. Rather than working towards some all-encompassing sublime representation, the series dissects oceanic attraction and draws out specific aspects of allure. Working from these conclusions, it attempts to recreate and highlight these points through practice. The technique involves remediation of photography through digital manipulation and physical reinterpretation of this digital form through silkscreen and aerosols. In essence, a shift from pure documentation to artistic embellishment of the ocean’s attributes.
The critical aspects of allure which emerged through this investigation were:
Known/unknown – the dichotomous nature of the ocean
Mercurial uniqueness – its unending capacity to reinvent itself
Reflection/transparency – the entrancing interaction of light and water
Constant state of flux – its ceaseless, unpredictable, captivating motion
The challenge then was to determine whether it was possible to recreate or highlight these aspects through practice. I highlighted the specific aspects of allure in the following ways. A process of remediation proved the most effective technique to represent the known/ unknown aspect of allure. Digital manipulation enabled dissection of the photographs that form the basis of this work, moving away from documentary representation towards a more abstracted form. Physical reinterpretation of this digital form through silkscreen and aerosol spray added to this photographic remediation. By experimenting with form and colour the work was able to waver between representation and abstraction to recreate that sense of recognized uncertainty experienced when observing the ocean.
Unconventional printing methods served to accentuate the ocean’s quality of unending uniqueness. The intentional imperfections achieved through this process were paired with the unpredictable nature of aerosol spray to create inimitable elements of difference within each work. The materials utilised highlight the reflective and transparent nature of the ocean. Light passes through and bounces off the mirrored and transparent stencils, so that, as with the ocean, these rays of light produce different effects depending on the time and location of the viewer. The motion that these materials simulate is emphasised when viewed in situ as the observer’s gaze shifts in response to the interacting surfaces.
In this way, differing elements of practice were drawn upon in an effort to best represent the various aspects of allure described above. Attempting to capture the majesty and mystery of the ocean is an unrealisable challenge. Hopefully this process of isolating and representing specific aspects of allure has proved more attainable.