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Audiovisual artists Overlap create single screen artworks, installations and live performances. Inspired by landscape in all its forms, their working process involves adding and removing layers, degrees of opportunism and systematized chance, creating generative combinations ranging from slow transitional paintings, to fast flowing AV performances.
Michael Denton of Overlap talks to architecture and design journalist Louis Wustemann about their new works for SuperRare.
Working as Overlap, fine artists Michael Denton and Anna McCrickard have refined the superimposition of treated images in performances ranging from VJ sets at the Glastonbury Festival and superclubs to AV displays at London’s V&A museum. Their kinetic vignettes for SuperRare are like the chamber music counterpoint to that public work; intimate, contemplative, drawing the viewer into landscapes that ebb and flow hypnotically.
Those landscapes are the result of fieldwork backed up by careful manipulation, says MD:
“We photograph things and then remove 50% of the imagery, then mix it with other images to bring it back up to 100%. So it’s built of layers.
“Trees, particularly, layer very well on each other,” he adds, “because that is how you experience them in nature. There are a lot of images of brambles and bushes, which are so complex, like infinitely intricate wallpaper. Making nature into wallpaper is something we are keen on.”
But if wallpaper suggests something that can be relegated to the background, that would be to undersell the immersiveness of Overlap’s work; you could find yourself wanting to live in these landscapes.
“If you go for a walk with your friends and have a really good time, when you get back you look at the photographs you have taken and often they aren’t representative,” MD says. “Everything is there: the scenery, the people, but nothing of the experience. Our work does the opposite of that. We are trying to reconstruct the world in a way that is completely unrealistic but is satisfying emotionally.
The sense of unreality is heightened by the fact that all the images are mostly rendered in monochrome, chosen, says MD, because it “makes it more colourful”.
“It also gets away from the photographic and the prosaic, empty representation,” he explains. “We are saturated with representational images; everywhere you go you are surrounded by bad images in colour; we don’t want to add to that. And it means when you do introduce some colour it’s more exciting. Like dropping down to one instrument in a piece of music – keeping just the bass going – it’s holding back.”
After the long-haul of VJ sets lasting hours, he says there is real pleasure in the discipline of crafting something so concentrated: “They are 54 seconds each and are like Doctor Who’s Tardis: bigger on the inside than the outside. We are trying to get a lot in there. They are a bit like postage stamps; they are miniatures. We are trying to say something about landscape and beauty and the sublime, in a very digital world.”