The dimensions of life are ‘space, light and anonymity’ JG Ballard proposes in High-Rise. Though referring specifically to the routines of those living in tenement blocks the same principal could be rolled out to encompass the structures of many contemporary spaces and non-places which thrive off their open quality enabling people to remain unidentified. Simplicity is favoured over diversity and there is an intangible appeal, even if only at an unconscious level, to a concrete landscape; alone whilst surrounded by seemingly likeminded individuals. Like the high-rise these spaces could be seen to create an ‘artificial psychological climate, operated to its own rhythms’.

Rainer Maria Rilke proposes a similar notion that in such spaces ‘the unlimited solitude makes a lifetime of each day, the invisible space that man can live in nevertheless, and which surrounds him with countless presences’. Everyone is conscious of the task or role that they must perform and are co-opted into a set system of rules and regulations which dictate their movement. In contemporary society a lot of these hidden controls are relayed across screens which prescribe how one acts not only in the space but with other individuals as well.

In my work thus far I have been exploring the architecture of contemporary spaces, giving an overview of their structure without depicting any defining features so that the paintings could be derived from anywhere in the world. As a result of this I hadn’t included the screen as an image within a work. This was also due to the fact that feared it would lessen the spatial quality of a piece. Encompassed here is an airport lounge, divided by an information display board halfway through the space. On the board a version of a train station waiting room is displayed, highlighting how all non-places are intrinsically linked by technology.

I feel however that the inclusion of a screen in the work means that some of the spatial quality is lost and the interpretation restricted. It has become the focal point of the work, acting as a barrier against the viewer being drawn into the space as everything is in the image; if to defined there is now-where for the viewer to extend into or reflect back onto the spaces they associate with daily. In future works I also need to consider further colour choice so that it more accurately reflects the space depicted, using colour match technology, whilst removing the bright lines which potentially confuse the work as their technology reference isn’t always as clear as I had envisaged. Alan Charlton uses grey as it is the most utilitarian and industrial colour with few associations outside the urban environment. The colour employed so that it shifts the physical space of the gallery environment as well. Though I may expand slightly outside the grey zone I need to research which colours not only reflect the space depicted most but also transform the gallery environment.


Alan Charlton


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