Looking At Me Looking At You – Visual Art Preview

A look at three art installations exploring visibility and observation

Each one of Hidden Door’s visual artists has brought a unique presentation of their work to this year’s theme of Environments.

We have been fascinated to find links and concepts in common throughout the works of artists who may on the surface have completely disparate practices. 

These three installations have each focused on the idea of photography as observation, emphasising point of view and casting the photographer as an invisible eye in each scene…

Ben Caro and Kat Cutler Mackenzie: Staging a Gaze

Ben and Kat’s work highlights the effects of the camera’s presence on the interaction between viewers and art, as well as offering a deeper look at how the creation of an image can impact both perspective and politics.

Through a series of images created in collaboration the sculptures Asklepios and Dionysus at the National Museum of Scotland, they explore links between the way we both frame, and interact with, an image – through the lens of a camera or with our own gaze.

‘In [a] museum setting, Caro and Cutler-MacKenzie’s photographs also offer a sensual or tactile form of “contact” between viewer and artefact, drawing upon techniques from “haptic visuality”, in which “the eyes themselves function like organs of touch”’ (Laura Marks).

Emily Nicholl: Acrobats Stuck at Home

Emily’s series of photographic works explore themes of private and public space, considering our existing and shifting relationship to both.

Each work is presented in a pair; indoor home environments contrasted with empty public spaces that Emily observed during the first 2020 lockdown. Throughout the work, Emily takes the role as photographer and performer, highlighting an important element of her artistic practise in which she explores the idea of the “embodied observer.”

In many of the images, the viewer can almost imagine subject doesn’t know that they’re being watched, as Emily’s circus-inspired poses are often slightly hidden, almost invisible at first glance, but still unable to hide from the viewer as the privacy of the home is presented for public view.

Shae Myles: Barbara at Home

This performative, photographic work from Shae Myles explores the life and world of the eponymous Barbara, a character living two lives: one out in the world, the other in isolation. By bringing Barbara’s private and public personas into contrasting view for the audience, Shae considers themes of intimacy, secrets and revealed truths.

Barbara may be a character created for performance, but she feels fully developed and heartbreakingly real as Shae dives into her psyche, “[questioning] notions of home and the false personas we adopt ourselves or assume of others.”

Each of these works, in their own way, invites the viewer to become part of the artwork as we take on the role of the camera, the one watching, as the subjects become a performance that watches us back…

The highlights above are just some of the incredible, immersive and experimental works that can be viewed at Hidden Door 2023. 

Don’t miss your chance to explore these works in person from Wednesday 31 May to Sunday 4 June.