In March I did a small collaboration with artist Darren Nixon based on the recent photo and video work I've been doing. Darren's work is a sublime mix of colour, shape and composition that uses painting as a springboard for investigation. He says, 'Although painting is the language at the root of what I do, I am interested in how it mingles with film, photography, sculpture, animation, sound, music and movement'.
For this work Darren was intrigued by the images and footage I'd been shooting about lockdown anxiety inspired by vintage Hollywood and wanted to see what would happen when they were handled in different ways by another person.
Usually Darren's paintings would be the starting point of his collaborations with other creatives, but here it was my work, which I think was very unusual for both of us.
It's fair to say that Darren and I have completely different ways of working and thinking; whereas I am fascinated by the figurative and narrative he is interested in shape and construct and trying to create an understanding of the whole. All imagery in this post is the result of mixing Darren's and my own ideas.
To begin our collaboration I sent him what I would call 'the stuff I decided not to use' from my own work; Video clips that I didn't like and couldn't make work and images from shoots that didn't hit the mark. I had no clue what he would make of them or what he could do with them, seeing no value in them myself.
The first thing he sent back to me was a video clip, 'Gemma 1-1'. I was confronted by a zoomed in version of my reflection but layered several times and filtered with colour.
I had earlier made a tentative start at playing with mirrors and filming myself but had found the process difficult and the result unsatisfying. Here however the video had a new feel and somehow looked more complete and he totally understood my aim to create a feeling of discomfort and unease while keeping an aesthetic of glamour.
What I really liked was that he had given the imagery the same treatment he would one of his paintings. Framing, cropping and putting holes in it almost as if it was a piece of board to be moved, shaped or painted as was seen fit. I would never have done this.
I then asked if he could do some literal mirrored effects on the same video and again I really liked how he turned the work into something else. Having me glance sideways fervently at myself at different speeds was so simple yet effective.
There is something sexual but also full of anxiety and maybe dread in that image'