Environments / Paintings (2009)

The areal landscapes, portraits and forests are a collection of paintings which were informed by notions relating to nature as artifice, human power or agency and landscape, lived experiences in relation to institutional experience, and the limitations of knowing a landscape through maps, or lived experience.

Images were traced onto acetate with a felt tipped pen, these drawings were projected onto stretched canvas, the projected images were traced with charcoal, and sections of this images were painted over with black acrylic paint. Much visual detail is lost when tracing a photographic image, but in this body of work, this loss of visual detail was a formal decision relating to a range of ideas regarding a human relationship to environments.

The images used for the aerial landscapes were mostly sourced from user uploaded photographs onto Google Earth. They are zoomed out views of the areas in and around cities, particularly related to services, trade, agriculture, manufacturing, and infrastructures. The intricate drawn and painted marks are suggestive of the complexity of interactions which comprise an environment. The forests were intended to function as a ground level counterpoint to the urban and peri-urban aerial landscapes. The forests are depicted in such a way as to suggest a human presence, or interference: The images used for the forests were sourced from the Internet; the paintings show the file names as they were saved online; the forest paintings also show the line of the edge of the overhead projector light as it cast a shadow over parts of the canvas. In this sense, the forests are shown to be involved in human artifice. The images used for the portraits were sourced from a forensic pathology handbook. All features of the faces were simplified through the tracing process, but their painterly and linear handling, and their association to the aerial landscapes series, transform the portraits into topographical landscapes. These paintings represent not so much an ending as a passing into an environment, a human body intricately connected with a transforming environment.

The drawing-led process of the Environments series resulted in an abstraction and re-coding of representational sources. The aerial landscapes, forests, and portraits, installed as one series of paintings constituted a coding of a relationship of different contexts. The body of work was an exploration of self, in contact with, and part of the outside world.

This series was exhibited at the University of the Witwatersrand University Corner Gallery in 2009.