richard whitlock

 Photographs and films in orthogonal parallel projection

   moving pictures      moving pictures      The Street

 The Street, HD video projection ca. 400 x 200cm, 2012.



The Street is a ‘moving picture’ of a street in Thessaloniki, Greece, made up of many videos and still images in such a way as to eliminate perspective. Instead of the vanishing-point we expect in a photographic image it uses the parallel projection used in architectural drawing. Space is flattened: distant buildings are no smaller than near buildings, and the vehicles in the street stay the same size as they move away from us. The spectator's eye is positioned everywhere: down in the street, opposite the balconies of the buildings, high and low, left and right, in an extension of vision that painters have employed since antiquity. 

This work was shown at the Center of Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki (image and commentary below), at Queens College, New York, and at Helsinki Photomedia 2014. It is currently presented in the Journal of media arts and cultural criticism  Afterimage, with an interview by Gregory Sholette, on the online site Photomediations machine, curated by Joanna Zylinska, and can be seen in full on vimeo.

The Street
Richard Whitlock’s new video installation The Street proposes an innovative and particularly interesting way of organizing visual space which throws into question the way our perceptions have been formed by the visual conventions established in works of art ever since the Renaissance.
The Street is the fruit of many years of experimentation, study and practice of the individual view, emerging unhurriedly from photographic works such as Hospital (2009), and developing the ideas the artist expressed in his older theoretical work on perspective in photography and in the moving image. The Street frames a typical street scene in a neighborhood of Thessaloniki - the facades of the buildings, the street itself and the vehicles passing by - with no particularly remarkable event taking place. Carpets are dusted, balconies swept, the clothes on the clothes-lines move lightly in the breeze, as do the leaves on the trees. A closer look at the image, however, imposes a strange feeling on us: the vehicles in the street do not get any smaller as they recede into the distance, and moving objects feel slightly disconnected from the still details of the picture around them: the work overall lingers in an obscure, unfamiliar region, somewhere between photography and video. Movements are not entirely “natural” and the static details of the picture don’t seem to be entirely still. The strangeness results from the many different techniques and mediums which the artist has invented and applied in order to eliminate classical perspective, replacing it with a new, polycentric optical system through which he reconstructs visual space piece by piece so that the viewer’s eye is positioned opposite every part of the image at the same time and finds itself following a “disobedient” path between different points. It is as if he were seeing multiple scenes simultaneously, combined in a mosaic where each tessera retains its autonomy and represents a brief incident in a story without a single linear narrative, following instead a spiral notion of time.
Whitlock proposes a subversion of the spatial and temporal conventions of narrative, according to which the camera should lead the viewer along a set path in a straight line for a fixed length of time. In The Street we are invited to practice a free subjective approach, without visible mapping marks, without the vanishing-point to organise our gaze. We can widen our visual field without necessarily introducing new subject-matter but just by changing the way we see ordinary, everyday events, changing our relationship with the city and its residents and, especially, altering our relationship with time. In this sense, his work communes with the moment of modernism manifested in the works of the early 20th century avant-garde, when the cubists and the suprematists (with their interest in “Non-Euclidean” space) sought to replace the single viewpoint with simultaneous, multiple points of view.
Syrago Tsiara
Director, Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki, December 2012