Land without image

Land Without Image

James Seow

A recent trip to Malaysia was the inspiration for this new body of work. During a relentless car journey, sitting in the passenger seat, whilst being driven through the expanse of the Malaysian countryside; I had noticed to my surprise and delight numerous large and blank metallic billboards pass us by, each of them jutting out of the landscape like beacons serving an unknown purpose.

What really fascinated me the most about these empty billboards was their juxtaposition with the sublime landscape that inhabited them. There seemed to be a great power within the blankness, which through the minds eye created an ambiguous sense of scale within its natural setting. They were huge voids in space, which seduced me; blank, shiny and purposeless voids that defied any interpretation or understanding until, I suppose, the next advertisement is to be paste onto it. The blank billboards offered a moments release from an image driven society. More prosaically, they were an open invite to look at our society again.

These monochromes depict a kind of void, a moment of emptiness and a visual disharmony against the setting of its subjects. There is something slightly abject about it all, the billboards imposition of purpose in such a natural landscape where they were located.

This body of work which consists of eight images is a celebration of moments of accidental pointlessness in a relentlessly instrumental, purposive urban world; amusing, beautiful even, and rare enough in their own way to invoke wonder. They record a different kind of observation of all the elements that compose life.

There are countless ways to document a city and this work is one of a modest approach. For me, the notion of this project seems too bizarre to be worked out in advance of having actually found one; and of course I have done so during a car journey. Perhaps I am a confirmed Flâneur, committed to the drive of methodology of discovery, and to the constructed environment of the city as the encompassing reality of modern life. This approach is not a mere reliance on chance but rather on openness to the role of chance, framed by a developed method of aesthetic investigation.

James Seow is a visual artist working primarily in photography, sculpture and installation based in London.

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