CODE PRACTICE refers generally to a body of sculptural and video works created over the last year by James Woodfill, and was set to be the subject of a solo exhibition at Joseph Nease Gallery starting in the summer of 2020. The novel coronavirus instigated our shift to a virtual web-based platform for an exhibition, and a change of focus to the most recent stop frame animations and sound work: CERTAIN OBJECTS AND CERTAIN SYSTEMS. These individual sketches and explorations, constructed in the spring and early summer, form a kit of parts that are presented here for small screens in a portfolio of three distinct compositions. For a more interactive experience we encourage you to view this exhibition on a desktop or laptop venue. From the artist:
At a basic level we perceive our world by moving through it, continuously receiving information from the shifting relationships between THINGS. We form our reality kinetically in collaboration with the world. In our daily existence, pattern and repetition cause habits to form that distance us from this direct encounter. The expected slowly becomes invisible. – from my pre-coronavirus statement regarding CODE PRACTICE
The abrupt move to a “stay at home” situation this spring brought on by the coronavirus pandemic changed the normal balances of my relationship to the space and time of my studio. Granted, I normally spend a lot of time in my studio and I also am a regular user of the internet, but now I was isolated beyond usual and my only daily communication outside of my family life came through the computer.
There is a new awareness of a situation known as “plausible deniability of absence” where our mind is tricked into the idea of being together with someone, via video calls, but our body knows that we are not. This dissonance is taxing, and it is a hurdle that we eventually become numb to. Online we are existing primarily in a virtual world once removed from the real, and our response is to slowly “forget” that this barrier exists. It’s like the idea that we learn to forget we are wearing eye glasses. This new dissonance slowly becomes normal and expected. The expected slowly becomes invisible.
When faced with the prospect of an exhibition moving to a virtual state, I became acutely aware of this barrier, realizing that my focus on the work for CODE PRACTICE had been, to a great extent, about the kinetic perceptions of the work as viewers moved in relationship to them in space. I looked for a way in which the work for this exhibition could exist in its natural habitat on the screen, not as a representation of another reality.
Certain Objects and Certain Systems is my response. Building on previous explorations with stop motion animation, I worked to develop a layer of kinetic activity that existed primarily as a moving image on screen. Starting around an attempt to animate, through a variety of processes, the original CODE PRACTICE sculptures, my interest quickly moved to include the idea of animating the mundane objects that had gained influence in the adjusted time and space of my studio.
The camera becomes an engine. The object becomes a pattern. Sound becomes a drawing. The gatherings presented can focus our attention in the foreground, or the entire operation can drift into the ambient. My intent has been to complicate the expected by resisting narrative and presenting the primary conversation between myself, the objects and the technological systems.