Stephen Andrews

b.1956

Stephen Andrews was born in 1956 in Sarnia, Ontario Canada. Over the last twenty five years he has exhibited his work in Canada, the U.S., Brazil, Scotland, France and Japan. He is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Belkin Art Gallery, the Schwartz Collection, Harvard as well as many private collections. His work deals with memory, identity, technology and their representations in various media including drawing, animation and recently painting.

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When motion is teased apart into its component pictures, the precise moment that something occurs is determined. For me, these frozen moments strive to capture that instant when everything changes irrevocably. It is in this moment, when we act or fail to act, that our nature is revealed. Searching through footage, we look for forensic evidence, proof of the unbelievable. The photojournalist traffics in this aura of authenticity, this establishment of the exact moment between the 'before’ and the ‘after'. It is here that I find the inspiration for the current work .

Like everyone, I have been both fascinated and horrified by the news coverage of the war in Iraq. In early 2003, I started searching the internet for photographic evidence of the war that was not being reported in the mainstream press. Web-based news sites and soldiers blogs offered a rather different picture. Photos of 'collateral damage' captured the obscenity of war in all its pornographic detail. In the wake of Abu Ghraib, these images are now ubiquitous. Like all pornographic and violent pictures, they tap into something instinctual, eliciting some gesture in response.

The recent drawings re-create the look of four-colour reproduction using a homemade separation technique. They are done as rubbings using window screening and crayons. The process softens the colours to a pastel palette, reminiscent of children's book illustration. The contrast of the war imagery with the pastel colour scheme brings to mind the moral tales of the Brothers Grimm. Gruesome lessons in a candy coating. They have the look of published photos though most of them have never appeared in print. At the same time I have been adapting the technique to animation. Here the picture jumps off the page and comes back to life to haunt us. This is the direction that the new work will take.

The disposibility of these media images is in stark contrast to the effects on the lives of those involved. Here I am trying to slow down our reading of the imagery in order to let the meanings sink in. For most of us these are not our personal experience but we must, I think, take it personally.

Websites, like newspapers and magazines before them, deliver us the world in a neat four-colour package. By directing our gaze to the dots that make up the pictures, I hope to interrogate the technological interface that delivers the message, to reveal through formal means the role that technology plays in constructing meaning. In the process of re-creating these digital images by hand, I want to explore the inevitable tension between my subjectivity (the hand of the artist) and these objectified digital 'moments'.

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