10 March to 2 April 2011
“…if a single word could sum up the baroque style that word would be “motion”.*
Allen Weiss’ dramatic summation of baroque style makes a perfect introduction to the works in big world by Lisa Young. Young’s reference to the Baroque and her working process combine to register a sense of movement and interchange not only within the works themselves but between the fields of analogue and digital technologies.
Lisa Young’s images are the result of a complex process that begins with the hand drawn and is then transformed via digital manipulation. In between, Young conjures scenes from her imagination, constructed from the various layers, shapes and squiggles, cut and paste, and fills of colour that combine to form new images that both hides and reveals their construction.
Each drawing begins with layers of tracing paper upon which a line is set in motion. This line traces and follows the form beneath it resulting in a number of versions of an original detail. Young manipulates these transparent layers, moving them around until an image comes into focus. The process feels sculptural, the forms have been massaged out of the details, to create topographical landscapes and angled interiors. Young then transforms these layers digitally, with more merging and shifting, adding colour and emphasizing shapes discovered on the screen, the original drawings become something else again. The tension between this harmony and disruption is somehow controlled like a bucolic garden.
The imagery references styles of baroque landscape and architecture, yet she shifts the traditional point of view, or perspective, and now we look down on these somewhat dystopic vistas like they could almost be an album cover for a fantasy heavy metal band. The compositions are cinematic in the sense your gaze enters the picture like a camera zooming into a central focus, like a point of explosion in reverse, each image fades out at the frame edges.
This centralized effect is most poignant in the views where we are looking up into the corners of what seems to be a large elaborate room, where it appears two walls and a ceiling meet. This interior space melds and mimics the imagined exterior like a trompe l’oeil we can see clouds on the ceiling, a branch sweeps down the wall, an archway reveals another room. The physicality of film is evoked here as well, with directional dust and scratches bearing a gravity that threatens to crumple the structure before it has come into focus.
The depicted imagery is also non-specific in the sense it is suggestive of a portrait or a landscape or an interior but, look closer, and the illusion falters. The congregated details of squiggles, dashes and lines are drawn together creating silhouettes that are not quite one thing or another but rather open to differing readings. These shapes call to mind the way every association, cultural or natural, is caught within a web of symbols and we bring the historical weight of our own hopes and fears to our interpretations and understanding.
Young’s collection of drawings that make up this exhibition big world regroup ideas of abstraction, form, composition and colour around an intimate scale that allows us the viewer to inhabit its imaginative spaces.
* Allen S. Weiss, Mirrors of Infinity: The French Formal Garden and 17th Century Metaphysics, Princeton Architectural Press, 2003.