I was reading an interesting essay had been recommended to me by Toronto artist Iris Haussler: The Way of the Shovel, by Dieter Roelstraete. In it, he discusses the fact that many artists are engaged in a “retrospective, historiographic mode—a methodological complex that includes the historical account, the archive, the document, the act of excavating and unearthing, the memorial, the art of reconstruction and reenactment, the testimony.”
Raymond Waters, Stained Glass No.8, 2012. Recycled 35mm film (Van Helsing 2004, by Stephen Sommers) with stain on wood frame, plexiglas, resin, LED lighting with remote dimmer. All images courtesy Raymond Waters.
It’s true, and there are many artists working with different approaches to the historiographic. One approach is to work with film, a recently outdated technology, in unconventional ways. From Tacita Dean’s beautiful memorial, Kodak in 2006 to Rodney Graham’s Camera Obscura photographs & installations, there has been a looking back at early, more substantial film and camera techniques. At the same time, there is a looking forward (and back) with pieces like Roy Arden’s 2007 World as Will and Representation and Tasman Richardson’s innovative works using a micro editing technique, which I wrote about HERE. Not to mention Christian Marclay’s much-admired film installation The Clock.
The stunning new works that artist Raymond Waters recently showed me fit somewhere here too. Conflating strips of vintage film with lightboxes in arched frames to create the effect of stained glass, Waters unites the nostalgia for analogue technologies with the nostalgia, perhaps for simpler times. The effect is also to have us consider how the history of stained glass as a means of illustrating Biblical stories (providing a visual reading) is echoed in the way contemporary technology uses info-graphics, for example, to convey complex information in a visual way.
Waters is currently working on a piece using the films Night & Fog and Schindler’s List to explore the role of the Church in the Holocaust. He is also looking at images of women in popular culture and the control of women’s bodies (vis-à-vis the church).
Each piece takes Waters between one week to a month to complete, and they are extremely well constructed. He ‘draws’ his designs on a computer and prints them to scale. Then he selects his ‘palette’ of colours and scenes from reels of vintage film. He then cuts and arranges the clips onto Plexiglas which he coats with resin. The lightbox frames – made to order by a carpenter – are mounted with LED lights and either stained, waxed or painted, or coated with gold leaf.
Images below. Enjoy!