Historic overlays

September 3, 2006

Idris Khan and Stephen Willats have a show on at the Victoria Milo gallery this month. We went along last night to the opening. Khan has produced seductice ‘photos’ by overlaying negatives of musical scores, texts and existing photographys, notable the Bechers.


Williat’s work, which still looks the work from that late 60’s is always a joy to see. I’ve been a fan since my college days – a concept driven artist that looks to mapping social relationships and the arrangement that society adopts as it accomodate indifference.

Jörg Colberg, who blogs about Fine Art Photography here, points towards a cracking article about Khan here. He also points out that the overlay technique has been worked up well by the artist Jason Salavon who has produced some stunning works. 121 Homes for Sale, LA/Orange County 2001 (Above) is an incredible image , and at a conceptual level incredible potenent when thinking about identification via time. Many of the web services I look at are precisely operatin on the same plane – data eveloving over time, offering the audience an oppotunity to see the development and motion of the world around them. Much of the visual graphic language that we encounter is ‘message’ – singular moments of communication. Do check out 100 Special Moments, Homes for Sale, The Class of 1988 & 1967, Figure 1.(Every Playboy Centerfold, 1988-1997) and erm, 76 Blowjobs

Salamon has an incredible body of work along these lines and an adopter of new technologies – which he discloses fully here.

In 2003, he produced the installation The Late Night Triad (Below) – which is “64 nights’ worth of the major US late night talk shows have been aligned and averaged using basic transformations. The result is a triptych of video projections with soundtrack, presenting an amalgamation of monologues which reveals the ghosts of repetitious structure and nightly activity.

What’s really nice about this aesthetics is the appropiation of media to generate more media – by looking through the image and acknowledging its position in time, more sense can generated about the role of the media – something insanely hard to write – yet far more easy to show. Basically – enabling super-eyes on the media landscape.

Khan has now produced a film ‘A Memory…after Bach’s Cello Suites,’ based upon this technique of overlay and is showing at the inIVA from Sept 12-22.

5 Responses to “Historic overlays”

  1. james Says:

    I think Idris Kahn is a rip-off. I have seen the same technique used in Jim Campbell’s work some if dates from as early as 2000: http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/illuminated-average/

  2. Hi James,
    It seems the technique of overlaying frames is as old as an accidental double exposure on Celluloid film.

    The technique used by Khan, Campbell and Salamon, is a distinct format in the regards to the values of the works ‘content’; each artist seems to be exploring something different and I would hope many more will develop the format of layering time and types.

    I see more commonality between Salamon and Khan, both look at ‘types’ and by layering images of similar forms, you begin to see the disturbing ‘average’. Whilst Salaman provokes a concern of ‘sameness’ in contempory popular culture, Khan romanticises the emotion of the past.

    Campbell seems to focus on the individual rather than ‘types’, as he utilises his own movement in video recording the subject. The focus is thus more about the time of the viewers stance than one of exploring icons of culture.

    Jim Campell’s Formula for Computer Art (http://www.jimcampbell.tv/) is a good example of ‘format’ vs. ‘content’.

  3. ingrid Says:

    Idris Kahn is defintitely a rip off. Check the Doug Keyes’s work on Photoeye.com. (http://www.photoeye.com/Gallery/forms/index.cfm?image=4&id=99638&imagePosition=4&Door=80&Portfolio=Portfolio2&Gallery=0&Keyword=DOUG%20KEYES) So similar it hurts… I can understand the layering technique being used but the content is the same. Is it what they teach at the RCA???!!!!!!!

  4. Great post – I really enjoyed taking the time out of my day to read it, thanks, keep up the wonderful work.

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