The Liquid Gesture

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The Liquid Gesture v092013 from Jennifer Mawby on Vimeo.

Single channel video work with soundtrack 3 min 10 secs in duration. All photography, animation, sound, and post production by the artist.

Statement: To date, my practice has evolved as an exploration into my desire to work from the position of being both a painter and a photographer. The aim is to resolve the possibly irreconcilable differences between the two mediums, and my inability to chose one over the other. Along the continuum of choices between these two mediums, I am interested in exploiting, displaying and subverting their material properties, typical forms and content in order to create an experience for the viewer. This has resulted in my making still and moving image, expanded paintings and sculpture as didactic props for durational or immersive installations. An extension of this “prop” or product mentality is the way I utilize photographic stills to document and catalogue the objects resulting from this approach to artmaking. The stills intentionally reference commercial product photography.

In additional to my concerns with medium, my content explores the influence and questionable veracity of lens-mediated storytelling in contemporary culture. The most typical of this tale-telling being film and cinema, with video gaming as a form of growing significance. However, I am not interested in straight ahead, linear plot lines. I’m interested in the backstories and the prequels. Much more in sympathy with video gaming, I’m interested in repetitive and iterative story experiences. Furthermore, even though I employ the notion of character, my narratives take place not in the actual world, but within the psychological landscape of my protagonist or antagonist. The artworks carry the narrative thread of this project.

For the project, there was a further aim – to deconstruct and reconstruct the constituent elements of filming making as if left in the hands of a naive savant. I used a simple haiku as my script:

The Liquid Gesture;
The Poem in her left hand;
Mountains or rivers?

I did not write this poem. It was generated with an automatic poem generator book and emailed to me on a whim. Thus, the poem is a found object. The found object is important because it introduces a kind of randomness, and randomness allows for the construction of readings that resemble, but actually confound, linear exposition. The images that form the basis of the moving image work, the cornerstone of the project, are also found objects. They are low-resolution mobile phone re-photography images taken from popular magazines as a kind of photo-essay, and were completed in 2009. Rephotography is fitting for this project as it is a photograph of a photograph, or a photograph within a photograph.

The work ultimately poses questions about the gaze, and the layers of nuance within the gaze. There is a gaze within a gaze. And, as much as the work is about this thwarted and intimate form of looking, it is also about gesture – gesture as both the preface to touching and the loaded desire to touch. Gesture is temporal and fleeting, and it leaves behind faint traces or remnants of it’s psychological significance. It is “The Liquid Gesture”. (2013)