Jerwood/FVU Awards 2017

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Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Exeter Phoenix
art file

A special screening of the  two newly commissioned moving-image works by The Jerwood/FVU award recipients Patrick Hough and Lawrence Lek, followed by a Q&A with featured artist Patrick Hough.

In response to the curatorial theme, Neither One Thing Or Another, Hough and Lek both employ pioneering, conceptually fitting, technologies to examine the steadily blurring line between the real and the artificial. Both works delve between definitions of consciousness, and in the process invite us to look again at what we think we know and see. Since their selection in May 2016, the artists have each received £20,000 to develop the works, with full production support from FVU.


Deliberately buried, the film-set for Cecil B DeMille’s The Ten Commandments was lost to the sands of time – under the dunes of the Southern California desert. In Patrick Hough’s video, shot on location at the site, it is not just fake fragments of the past that are disinterred. What hovers over the place is a spirit of uncertainty; one that questions bedrock values like ‘originality’ and ‘authenticity’ and dusts them with other layers of meaning: the extraordinary ease of reproducibility, the spray-on glamour of cinematic semi-celebrity. This spirit of uncertainty is encapsulated by the figure of a sphinx – once part of the décor of the majestic film-set, now wandering in ghostly limbo; haunting the nearby town like a wildcat on the prowl. The sphinx’s hybrid form and cryptic, enigmatic presence is also a symbol of a blurring between the material and the virtual.


As the geopolitical axis tilts further to the East, and as once-dominant economic/technological models are cast into doubt, Lek alights on a longstanding tension between the place of the human and the role of the machine, sharpened by contemporary hopes and anxieties around the rise of East Asia, and by speculations that new forms of artificial intelligence, already outperforming mere mortals in matters of automation and aggregation, will challenge us in more creative skills as well. In Lek’s video, one such AI awakens above Singapore on the eve of the city-state’s centennial celebrations in 2065. Mindful of the apparent relegation of AI to subservient roles in society, it determines that, from all the possible choices available to it, by far the best thing to be is to be an artist.

For more information on the Jerwood/FVU Awards scheme:

The Jerwood/FVU Awards are a collaboration between Jerwood Charitable Foundation and FVU: Film and Video Umbrella. FVU is supported by Arts Council England.

Images courtesy of Jerwood/FVU Awards.