Friday, 14 September 2012

Research Artist - Patrick Keiller

Patrick Keiller (born 1950) is a British film-maker, writer and lecturer.
eiller was born in 1950, in Blackpool and studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. In 1979 he joined the Royal College of Art's Department of Environmental Media as a postgraduate student. For a time he taught architecture at the University of East London and fine art at Middlesex University.
His first film was Stonebridge Park (1981) followed by Norwood (1983), The End (1986), Valtos (1987) and The Clouds (1989). These films are typified by their use of subjective camera and voice-over, a technique that was further refined in his longer films London (1994) and Robinson in Space (1997).
Both London and Robinson in Space are narrated by an unnamed character (voiced by Paul Scofield) who accompanies his friend and onetime lover, the unseen Robinson, in a series of excursions around London. Robinson is involved with research into the problems of London and, in the later film, England. The films are seen as a critique of the United Kingdom's economic landscape under the Conservative governments of 1979-97.
In 2000, Keiller completed The Dilapidated Dwelling. This film was made for television, but was never broadcast. It features the voice of Tilda Swinton, and its subject matter is the state of the UK's housing.
Keiller's film Robinson in Ruins was released in November 2010. It was one of the outcomes of a three-year research project entitled The Future of Landscape and the Moving Image and reprised the Robinson character from London and Robinson in Space.[1] The actress Vanessa Redgrave assumed the role of narrator.
The Duveen galleries, at the heart of Tate Britain, have been colonised, inhabited, by aluminium structures reminiscent of agricultural or industrial ruins. They support The Robinson Institute by Patrick Keiller, the first Tate Britain Commission made in response to Tate’s Collection of British and international art. The structures present various artworks, maps, artefacts, texts, books and film extracts in a zigzag loop around the space. A journey through this space is potentially a lesson in the political economic history of the British landscape but also reveals the way we locate ourselves in the landscape.
The installation acts as a scrapbook of Keiller’s thinking and presents a re-interpretation of the material that formed Robinson in Ruins 2010, the final part in Keiller’s Robinson trilogy. Robinson in Ruins documents the last journey of Robinson, a recurrent fictional character in Keiller’s work, through the landscape of Oxfordshire and Berkshire in 2008. This journey was embarked upon, like Robinson’s two previous journeys depicted in London 1994 and Robinson in Space 1997, in an attempt to “better understand a perceived ‘problem’ by looking at, and making images of, landscape.” The specific problem in question here is identifying the causes of the current economic and ecological crisis in UK.
We are led through the looking glass by Robinson and find ourselves deposited in a landscape of artworks and artefacts, seemingly brutally ripped from their original or accepted art historical context. The chronological or thematic associations we are familiar with seeing are left by the way side. Simultaneously the display undermines the hierarchy between art objects and historical documents. There is a democratisation of the information conveyed, making a ‘fictional’ artwork as reliable as historical evidence. Our challenge as the viewer is to locate ourselves in front of this display; we do so with knowledge, both that which we are presented with and that we already possess.
Robinson acts as our guide, rather than Keiller; a device that distances the artist from the work, allowing him freedom to directly “explore ideas one might entertain but would not necessarily adopt” [2]. But who is Robinson? In answer to this initially we encounter August Sander’s Vagrants 1929, Michael Andrews’ Study for a Man in a Landscape (Digswell) 1959 and Nigel Henderson’s Head of a man 1956. Elsewhere are copies of Daniel Defoe’s’ Robinson Crusoe, Beatrix Potter’s Little Pig Robinson, leaflets from Mission Robinson[3] and a poster for Martin Kippenberger’s Happy End of Franz Kafka’s Amerika[4]. The multilayered answer to this basic question gives an idea of how complex engagement with this work can be. And equally how much hard work, or alienating it can be, if you lack prior knowledge.
 The character of Robinson has enabled Keiller to make idiosyncratic almost childish links between art works, based on form or surface appearance. The Wold Cottage meteorite, which fell in 1975, provides a visual link between John Latham’s Full Stop1961, Hubert Dalwood’s Large Object 1959 and Lucio Fontana’s Nature 1959-60. Initially this could appear as folly; insignificant coincidences given undue consequence. However the further you engage, look, or consider deeper into the art works, a titillating new significance or sense emerges.
Keiller takes us on a journey, both through the countryside of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and through art history, to present his reading of the landscape. He focuses on particular events that in his unilateral narrative culminate in the current economic, ecological crisis. Certain points in history are markers around which artworks cluster: The 1662 discovery of Boyles Law which enabled the invention of steam power and subsequent industrial revolution, the 1795 amendment to the settlement act, the 1963 veto from the European Economic Community due to involvement with UGM-27 Polaris, which negatively impacted on the growth of UK industry and trade.
The meaning of art works is taken from the hands of artists or art historians and they are presented in combinations to Keiller’s own means. Rather than being damaging, the new links are refreshing and informative, enhancing our encounter with familiar art works. As you may expect from an exhibition concerning the British landscape there are works by JMW Turner, John Constable, James Ward and Paul Nash, but here the presentation forces the viewer to resist the stereotypical perception of the British landscape genre as merely bucolic or picturesque. Yet the installation is far from didactic in its presentation of Keiller’s ideas. The initial disorientation he creates allows multiple interpretations to come from the viewer; opening questions about how we locate our selves in front of an artwork and to what extent we allow this to be dictated by an accepted art history. With the help of Robinson the artworks are liberated. Our own looking locates them, not what we are told to think.

I got inspired by Partick Keiller because of his use of being able to create a concept behind a character that doesnt exist. But 'Robinson' can be put into context like they do exist and have a story to share. And also has introduced me into the art forms of Landscape film which is a type of art I'm not that familuar with but has given me ideas for my project. Especially since 'London' explores econmic problems at the time by a fictional character. I guess in a sense that because a fictional character cant be punished by law or goverment and can say and protest as they wish. That Keillers film is a expression of Britain becoming a failed Utopia and that by creating Robinson wants to repair and express our countries situation and issues.

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