For your show at Mailbox you presented part 3 of an ongoing project ‘Constructing Absence’ can you tell us more about this project? What where parts 1 and 2?
Constructing Absence is a project we started in 2011. Through the project we bring our work together to investigate architectural space and question the built environment, considering how it might translate as a metaphor for an internal landscape.
The project stemmed from an overlapping of interests and ideas that the three of us had in our individual practices, such as absence and presence and the abstracted representation of architectural space. We found that by bringing our work and ideas together, it allowed us to explore them in a way that expanded on our individual thoughts and processes.
Each project has responded directly to the space in which we exhibited – Dear Patti Smith (2011), Kings ARI (2011), a residency project at Seventh Gallery (2013, not officially part of the Constructing Absence series!) and now Mailbox. We make work that responds to the architectural features of the building, such as windows, columns and vantage points. We spend a lot of time on-site exploring the gallery, developing a relationship between the works and the space, so that the space itself is invited to become part of the work.
It is always very exciting to see our work come together in the gallery, to find connections that we didn’t expect to be there – both between the individual works and between the work and the space. Everything becomes so considered. It’s exhausting, as we spend a lot of time and energy focusing on the relationships between the artworks and the space but it’s equally rewarding, hence why we now have multiple parts to the project :-)
As your work was created site specifically can you tell us about how you utilised the features of the mailbox exhibition space? How did it influence the work you created?
We found it interesting to consider the original function of the mailboxes – to receive and temporarily contain pieces of information. They present as a transitory space, a thoroughfare for data and communication. We took this into consideration when making and installing the works. The mailboxes allow the pieces to co-exist as a series of works. When they are removed from the mailbox they are no longer held together, the information changes and moves on.
We drew in on very subtle features of the space – linear patterns, decorative elements of the art deco building – and almost isolated these as subject matter for the work. By spending a great deal of time in the space leading up to the install, we considered all of its intricacies that one may not necessarily even consciously process while simply passing through. But these distinctive details contribute to forming an overall impression and feeling.
M. I found myself responding to the abundance of colours in the rolls of fabrics that lent against the walls of Tessuti and seen through the tall glass door across from the mailboxes. In a few of the mailboxes, I displayed rolled image fragments – that became sculptural, like cylinders of colour. Relationships like these were explored throughout the project – in different rhythms that bounced back and forth between the specifics of the space and the juxtapositioning of our individual work. This led to a real sense of play that I think was very evident to those familiar with our work. The outcome was also very material and tactile that I think reflected the handmade quality of the mailboxes themselves and their intimate scale.
T. For me, the scale influenced my work tremendously. Rather than recording a particular object, I chose to take small recordings of surface, structure and colour.
Architecture is obviously a big inspiration in all of your practices can you tell us why?
S. Architecture is a very large part of my individual practice as well as my work with eye collective. I find myself very interested in the nature of interior architecture and design of office and public spaces. Looking at the generic nature of the design of these spaces, and the way in which they imply and dictate human interaction is a large part of my solo practice. With Eye Collective we often look at the architectural features of a space in great detail, and choose to respond to or highlight certain elements of a space.
T. Architecture is so representative of people, of human presence. It suggests so much about our existence and co-existence. I am also very interested in the physical human connection with architecture, this is something I become very aware of when taking three-dimensional rubbings of architecture. I spend a lot of time with the one structure and this really allows me to consider it’s scale and the materials from which it is made. I am also interested in the objects that exist within the architectural space, such as chairs; why they are there and how they affect human interaction with the space.
M. As John Ruskin wrote “ we can live without architecture, but we cannot remember without it” – Architecture has the power to connect us with the past. I’m particularly drawn to architectural spaces such as empty interiors, foyers, stairwells, rooms, walkways and how these spaces operate as a metaphor for the accumulative nature of memory.
The way that eye collective depicts space is void of people can you talk a bit about the idea of absence?
Using the absence of physical human form gives us a way of exploring the non-physical human form, aspects such as emotions, psychology and memory. There is still a suggestion of physicality but by excluding the actual physical appearance of the body, the work invites us to consider what else is there; what other than physicality exists in a built space and how might these spaces be representative of human experiences, such as change, emotion and memory.
What where the challenges in creating this show?
The install (always!). While we all obviously knew about the scale of the boxes, it really was a completely different experience working on such a small scale. We found it really changed the process of the install and how we sent about placing the works. The process of installation always forms a large part of our projects, but in this environment it was heightened.
Is this the last part of the project or will we see a part 4?
Who knows! We think that this show certainly gave us a platform of ideas for the next project, whether or not it will be a part 4 is not yet clear!
You can see more of Eye Collective’s work here