As you enter the space, you are confronted with dramatic and disturbing combination of images and sound: a ‘wall’ of naked figures, staring straight at you, inhabiting the full width of the gallery space.
The eighteen life size figures are initially motionless, but gradually appear to come to life, to become aware of their surroundings, to become aware of you, the audience.
The figures illuminate the otherwise dark, empty space, the nuances of skin tone glowing with light, caught as if behind the screen, pressing against it, enclosed and compressed in the darkness; seemingly unaware of one another.
Abstract tones of the soundtrack envelope you, increasing the sense of the figures’ isolation. These images live behind the screen in a constricted cycle – displayed, subtly manipulated, evolving specimens, becoming increasingly aware of their surroundings, and their entrapment.
In a sense we are all encased in this space – we are forced to think about the comparisons, conscious or otherwise, that we make between our own and other bodies; what we believe is ideal or perfect, and how we, or they, compare.
The expanse of the screen and the choreography of the bodies make detecting changes in the forms over time difficult to distinguish. The audience is left with a sense that deviations are occurring; the bodies are not quite ‘right’, but when or where or what these changes are is hard to tell.
When we can isolate and alter the individual building blocks of construction, be this the pixel or the gene, the ability to alter, reconstruct and represent what appears to be ‘truth’ is limitless.
Cosmetic modification, organ replacement, prosthetics, cryonics, gender alteration, cloning and genetic enhancement have all changed our perceptions of the physical body.
Stages Elements Humans raises issues surrounding the possibilities of genetic engineering and what this could mean when genetic alterations, corrections or mutilations can be purchased as easily as cosmetic enhancement.
Versifier: Stages Elements Humans, video installation (1998)