Durational performance for web-cam / interactive video installation Vantage 3, Darwin House, Departure Foundation, Leeds, UK
'Eye Contact' was inspired by the proliferation of portable commodities that blur the disinction between camera, mirror and online device and the growing cultural anxieties around narcissism and surveillance in the era of online social media. For my performance at 'Vantage 3' I stared, over a period of five hours, into a specially adapted two-way mirror with a web camera concealed behind it. The camera converted the mirror's reflection into an online broadcast . During my performance the virtual audience were invited to ‘stare into my eyes’ remotely and anonymously. I did not know at the time if my gaze was being returned by thousands or, more likely, no one. As time passed, I came to feel detached from my mirror image and to see my reflection as just another unknown observer. The live audience were free to study my actions and interact with the mirror in my absence.This project was made possible by a commission from the Departure Foundation. Vantage 3 was curated by Adam Young.
Hang Over Site Specific installation Reinforced gallery rope, Sleeping pills, Artist, Monitor and George Orwell quote The Cob Gallery, Camden, UK June - July 2013 'I have never been there myself, but Bozo has been there often. I asked him whether anyone could possibly sleep in such an attitude, and he said it was more comfortable than it sounded - at any rate, better than the bare floor' George Orwell from his novel Down and Out in Paris and London
A proposal to dig a pit into the floor of an art gallery using measurements and angles based on those of a graph that describes the growth of my student debt over the last twelve years. A sculpture is created by removing from, rather than adding to, the gallery. The piece may become a trip hazard during busy times. Copyright 2012
An audience member interacts with 'Critical Distance' Critical Distance
Interactive video installation
Ipswich Art School Gallery, Ipswich, UK
Critical distance uses the video collage technique developed for Stay Behind the Line, but focuses on the absent body as a sculptural object. The work is an exploration of absence that hints at the imposition of barriers, motion detectors and surveillance systems to protect and detain, both within the art museum and other forms of institution. It also invokes a romantic construction of the young male artist as illusive, melancholy and other-worldly: a position now mostly lost to art history, protected by the canon and encountered through the document.
'...Hutber’s work is a case of the unexpected – a primeval jugular shot of emotion and unease that best showcases what Fierce is all about.' Emily Gosling, Volt Cafe, April 2012
Stay Behind the Line (Example 3) Interactive video installation, Grand Union, Birmingham, UK
March - April, 2012
'Stay Behind the Line' is an installation that explores notions of ethical deferral and critical detachment and relates them to the proliferation of digitally mediated, monitored and 'manipulated' images in our day to day environments. The piece is also a self-portrait that expresses a sense of being defenseless against, and impervious to, the actions of others.
Three new pieces were also created for my exhibition at Grand Union in response to the location. They are 'painter, 'Blind Sight' and 'Reception'.
From the Fierce festival brochure... Reynir Hutber (UK)
'Installation exploring mediated images, politics of containment, security and observation.'
'Reynir unites two aspects of live art that seemingly obsess the medium; one, the ongoing concern with the body as site, especially the politics of its vulnerability, the other, engagement with media technology as a means of altering representation and identity. Here he sets up rules that the work demands the audience break, extending his inquiry into regulation, control and self negation.'
Harun Morrison, Fierce Festival co-director
Grand Union Press release Opening 6–9pm Friday 16 March
Exhibition continues 17 March to 22 April, open Thursday to Sunday, 12–5pm
Grand Union, in collaboration with Fierce, is proud to present work by Reynir Hutber, an emerging artist based in London, whose work explores themes of social visibility, moral relativity and the everyday imposition of authority. For this solo exhibition he will present his award winning installation, Stay Behind the Line, alongside a series of new related works.
Stay Behind the Line is an interactive installation that takes place in a specially constructed cell-like environment. When visitors enter the space through its narrow doorway, they are confronted by a wall-mounted surveillance monitor directly in front of them. They are now looking at a live video feed of the space with their feet placed in the top third of the screen. Further down in this relayed image however, there is a disturbing anomaly: a superimposed recording of the artist’s twitching, naked body that is no longer physically present in the room. What happens next is down to the visitor...
Other works in the exhibition also explore the absence of the performer. Technology is used to infuse the space with a sense of the artist’s presence and blur the division between past and present, spectator and protagonist. Through his works, Hutber addresses issues specific to the history of performance art while simultaneously exploring the anxieties and uncertainties of living in a sophisticated era of surveillance and mediation: an age in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to verify the authenticity of an image.
Fierce Festival, Birmingham’s premier live art and performance festival, runs from Thursday 29 March to Sunday 8 April 2012. Performers from around the world will converge on Birmingham to bring boundary-pushing performances and art installations to venues and unusual spaces across the city. See www.wearefierce.org for full programme listings.
Blind Sight Interactive installation, Grand Union, 2012
Wireless night vision camera, screen on plinth, converted gallery stock room with observation window and mechanism. Mechanism fabricated by John Hutber.
A slow knocking and whining sound emanated from inside a locked room in the gallery. This was not, as many assumed, the sound of a performance in progress, but rather, of a hoaxish kinetic mechanism banging against the reverse side of the door. When an audience member peered into the space through the doors ‘observation window’, they could see very little amidst the dust and gloom, while at the same moment a carefully positioned night-vision camera relayed the spectral image of the viewer’s face to a nearby monitor screen. This mechanism meant that the would-be voyeur might, in that moment, become the unwitting subject of an intrusive and unknown gaze. Referencing the voyeuristic dynamic of Duchamps’ "Étant donnés" 1946-66, ‘Blind Sight’, disrupted the viewer’s expectations of being in a position of power and removal from the subject of the work. In the relayed image, it also became unclear whether the audience member was a spectator looking into, or a captive looking out of, the room, as the view looked similar from both perspectives.
'Night vision' is a technology that was developed for military use but is now installed in domestic security devices available at high street shops such as Maplins.
1/1 scale looped video projection of site specific performance, Grand Union, 2012
'Painter' is a surveillance-style recording of the artist obsessively painting/preparing the section of the wall onto which the video would later be projected at a life-size scale. The figure appears to be covering something up while simultaneously creating a space for itself to exist.
Photographs by Harminder Judge, Jaskirt Dhaliwal and Reynir Hutber 2012 for Grand Union and Fierce Festival. All images are subject to copyright. Thanks to everyone at Fierce and Grand Union.
'Create an Accident is an open ongoing platform about the performing and visual arts and theoretical research. Based in Athens, Greece, Create an Accident operates as a non stop lab and open field for experimental, provocative projects and non-existing landscapes.'
For 'Not Quite a Baker's Dozen' at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences I was invited to submit a proposal that related to the art market and notions of value. Inspired, in part, by Pierre Manzoni's seminal work, Artist's Shit (1961) I chose to exhibit the debt to the state I created while studying art as an 'immaterial' art work. Although three of my proposals were selected for the exhibition by HRL Contemporary two of the works were subsequently declined on the advice of legal experts at the LSE.
Please note that the printed statement that was hung on the gallery wall is not ‘Art’, it is just a legal document that confirms the debt’s existence, authorship and volume.
Waiting to Fall (infinite) video of site-specific performance The Catlin Art Prize 2011, The Tramshed, Shoreditch
'Waiting to Fall' is a site-specific video of myself hanging from one of the Tramshed's vast infra-structure of metal Ibeams. The Tramshed was dissected into a number of cubicles for the exhibition. My space was empty (apart from the screen that showed the performance).
When an audience member approached the screen they were directly beneath the space where I had been hanging. I was holding on by the tips of my fingers like Bas Jan Ader, hanging from the fragile branch of a tall tree in his seminal video 'Fall (Organic)', 1971.
Although my actions may have looked dangerous at first glance, on closer inspection the video revealed itself to be a heavily manipulated document. A short clip had been looped so as to extend the expectation of the fall forever and was framed so as to conceal all health and safety precautions. Because of the low resolution of the digital video it was hard to know if the event had actually taken place at all or if the image was a collage contrived in post production.
'The Endless Press Up' is one of a series of videos in which a short performance by the artist is seamlessly looped to create ‘false’ evidence of an excruciating and ultimately impossible act of endurance or resistance. For example, in this work, I appear to perform the action of the title indefinitely. Although one may initially be entertained by the illusion, over time the figure can come to resemble a mechanised object, trapped in a Beckettian cycle of absurd, repetitive and pointless struggle: a subject being trained, disciplined or punished.
Stand Up Straight
Looped video. Filmed at Green Fields studio, Leipzig, Germany. February, 2012
Stay Behind the Line (Example 2) Video Installation, R O O M Gallery, London, UK
June - July, 2010
In this example of the work, a low resolution CCTV camera allowed visitors to view the installation space before they entered it. What the visitors on the other side of the barrier were actually seeing, and reacting to, was not revealed and from this 'outsider' perspective their behaviour may have appeared haunted and irrational. A white spotlight marked out the parameters of the space where my body was recorded and also had the effect of illuminating the visitors in a strange and spectral light as they reached towards its ‘mirage’. For more information about this project please see below…
'Artist Reynir Hutber is named as Catlin Art Prize winner by eminent panel of judges as collectors flock to purchase shortlisted works.In the most exciting year yet for the Catlin Art Prize, collectors vied for the opportunity to purchase work by some of the most inspiring new names in visual art. Featuring painting, sculpture, film and performance work, the prize provides a platform for artists who have graduated the previous year.'
Judge Ben Lewis commented: ‘...Reynir’s video installation, which turned the viewer into a perpetrator with an unmistakeable reference to Iraqi and Afghani prisons, eventually won out over the rest, thanks to its combination of pressing political urgency yet modest and un-theatrical form, and the relational way it turned the position of the viewer into the real subject of the piece.’
Reynir said of his work: ‘My current art is broadly concerned with the devices through which social behaviour is coerced, monitored and evaluated. Rather than focus on the production of objects, I stage open-ended scenarios whose implications are ultimately determined by the audience’s response and interaction. I am hugely excited to have won the Catlin Art Prize, especially as the other work on show was of such a high standard.’
Interactive video installation,The Village Underground, London, UK
"In a small enclave to the back of Shoreditch’s Village Underground, a video screen captures artist Reynir Hutber’s naked body lying curled into a ball on the floor. A haunting evocation of surveillance culture, Hutber’s Stay Behind the Line won the Catlin Art Prize, a selection of over 500 young artists selected by curator Justin Hammond from last year’s graduate art show program."
"The screen mixes footage of Hutber twitching with a live-feed of the screen’s viewers. It’s only upon seeing one’s movements echoed behind the prone body that one realizes that the space Hutber occupies in the video is the vacant gap right besides you. It’s a subtle and clever exploration of those parts of ourselves we lose within the media watching us."
Dont Panic Magazine, Brian Welk, William Alderwick / 17 May 2010
Images by Justin Green / Art Catlin and Nathan Toper
In the modern global market, debts are traded and sold like assets. A debt has no physical form and yet it exists, undeniably. It is immaterial but also measurable; it has a precise dimension that grows and/or erodes over time. As a young sculptor, I created a debt to the state: a work that would prove to be the most enduring and politically relevant product of my early studies. Inspired, in part, by Pierre Manzoni's seminal work, Artist's Shit (1961), this piece comes with a framed bank statement to verify its conjoined scale and market price. Although ‘Artist’s Debt’ (1999 – 2012) has an intrinsic and increasing monitory value, transferring it to a collector represents a significant economic and artistic challenge; if it were purchased, the work would effectively cease to exist. Please note that the printed statement is not ‘Art’, it is just a legal document that confirms the debt’s existence, authorship and volume. ‘Artist’s Debt’ is a ‘worthless’ piece of conceptual art that continues a broader social interest in the notions of ‘owing’ and being ‘without value’.
The view into 'Room 237' was blocked by a false wall with a clinical soap dispenser mounted on it. Before entering the installation, visitors were encouraged to clean their hands using the antibacterial gel provided. Above the soap dispenser, an embossed plaque read: 'Strictly No Photography', a sign common to art galleries, military institutions and state detention centres.
In the next space there was a monitor mounted on the left-hand wall. When visitors looked into the monitor, they saw a live relay of themselves filmed from behind, with their turned backs framed in an open doorway. They could now also see the formerly concealed space on the opposite side of the doorway, where a naked body was crouched against the wall, twitching slightly with its face in its hands. The body was a looped and filtered recording of the artist, posed so that its age, health and gender were indeterminate. If the visitor looked for the body directly, they would not find it; it was a kind of digital mirage that could only be witnessed through mediation.
The work continued an interest in social visibility and responsibility and marked a development of the live video-compositing technique first used in 'Private View' 2008. 237 was the number of the studio in the art institution where the installation was sited: it is also the number of the hotel room in Kubrick's version of 'The Shining' where the caretaker stacked the bodies of his murdered family.
Room 237 is one outcome of an ongoing body of research. Areas have included the ethics of war photography; how human suffering is represented and the related notions of endurance, transcendence and authenticity in the work of Chris Burden and Marina Abramovic.