Ed Atkins

Ed Atkins made two works for the inaugural Jerwood/FVU awards, following his provocative pilot piece Material Witness OR A Liquid Cop with the commissioned companion video, Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths. Together, the pair formed a virtual double-header, with apparitional computer-generated figures spouting Atkins’ haunting, often graphic monologues. Accompanied by limited edition publications of related texts by the artist, their investigation of the fallibility of the body and the elusive amorphousness of the digital image further consolidated the template that has come to distinguish Atkins’ subsequent practice.

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Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths, 2013
12 minutes, 50 seconds
Single channel work

Ed Atkins’ Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths is a follow-up to his pilot project Material Witness OR A Liquid Cop. Here, Atkins’ shifty, protean protagonist is not so much undercover as in too deep – his identity hidden; his body immersed and submerged. Sleeping with the fishes in his luminescent vacuum at the bottom of the ocean, he is the unquiet voice of the repressed, the face of the unfathomable (albeit a face that is framed and sometimes lost behind its mass of tangled, swirling hair). Netted by digital motion capture techniques, and embellished through computer animation, the slipperiness of truth and the difficulty of its representation are vividly entwined in this image, lending Atkins’ investigations a material, almost forensic resonance. Animators speak of the rendering of hair as the final frontier (and the elusive grail) of computer graphic verisimilitude. Get it right and your character is immediately believable. Get it wrong and it is an instant, incriminating giveaway. Atkins’ figure drifts deliberately between the two: fitfully surfacing like a nagging subconscious memory, a foreign body floating up from the depths. As with all of Atkins’ work, however, that frisson of indeterminacy lingers indelibly, haunting and troubling the mind.

 

Material Witness OR A Liquid Cop, 2012
19 mins 16 secs
Video

A computer-generated figure sits in a television studio and invokes a-histories and immaterial indices: thick, warm surfaces and dramatic lighting states: a neural network and those eternal celestial bodies: a final broadcast and some overt tattoos; a map of its being and the space where the crime occurred…

Material Witness OR A Liquid Cop is the pilot for a series of interviews with a witness to a crime, conducted as they, along with the crime, materialise and take shape.

 

Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths and Material Witness (or A Liquid Cop) were commissioned as part of the Jerwood/FVU Awards: 'Tomorrow Never Knows', a collaboration between Jerwood Visual Arts and Film and Video Umbrella (FVU) in association with CCA, Glasgow. FVU is supported by Arts Council England.


Video


Image Galleries

Stills, ‘Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths’

Stills, ‘Material Witness or a Liquid Cop’

Jerwood Space, 14 March – 22 April 2012

Jerwood Space, 16 January – 24 February 2013

CCA, Glasgow, 7 June – 20 July 2013