Mike Marshall, Volker Eichelmann/Roland Rust

07/06/2003 - 23/08/2003


Mike Marshall’s photographs and video works are deceptively simple. They prolong our engagement with overlooked places and elementary experiences with a lightness of touch that belies the complexity of their construction.

Marshall’s interest in the potential for sound to occupy and form space is clearly tangible in Exploring a Small Canyon, 2003. He places himself in this arid landscape, shouting simple words into it and waiting for the ensuing echoes. As the video progresses, these multiply to form a contradictory dialogue, which seems to emanate both from the canyon and the gallery space itself.

His latest video work, What if things were different, focuses on the gentle movements of detritus suspended in the luminescent solutions of a swamp. The artist’s voice utters derogatory adjectives – “…filth…putrid…stench…” – which attempt to name and announce the arrival of each shot. While their onomatopoeic tones dictate the nature of corresponding edits, they seem oddly incongruous with these unashamedly beautiful images of aqueous micro worlds.

The photographs chosen for this show are from a series developed over three years, and have not previously been exhibited. Each scene seems ‘stumbled across’, without apparent motive and with a rare equanimity in the treatment of banal or exotic subjects. Whether details of light reflected on a green wall, a bougainvillea moving in the wind or a pavement fading into darkness, they look intensely at what may otherwise simply have been glanced at.

Volker Eichelmann/Roland Rust have spent two years refining Camouflage, a project which explores instances of fortification from a range of perspectives. This installation is only one variation of the project, which they compare to modular furniture in that it can be set up in different configurations.

The "corporate peninsula" of London's Docklands is a recurring focus of Eichelmann/Rust's inquiries. Their Docklands Trilogy combines sequences filmed on the Docklands Light Railway, a walk around
The Isle of Dogs' perimeter and a 'contact improvisation' dance performed at Canary Wharf, with texts on notions of fortification by Machiavelli, Freud and the 19th century architect and theorist, Viollet-Le-Duc.

In Before the Future and After all Eichelmann/Rust visit important sites in the implementation and development of surveillance technologies, notably the contemporary military installations of Menwith Hill's radomes and the "pyramid-cum-space station" lay-out of Fylingdales. As the architectural eccentricities of these installations bear no immediately discernable link to their function, viewers are left to consider their geodesic design in relation to images of the 19th century Martello Towers and the Second World War pagodas and tumuli erected on Orford Ness.

Ethan, Eichelmann/Rust's alter-ego, functions as tour guide for this journey through times, ideas and histories. Originally an unenviable figure, hooked on anti-depressants in Douglas Coupland's novel Microserfs, he becomes a fictional anchorman who fuses analysis with subjective narrative and obscure references to the game of Chess – themselves clues to Eichelmann/Rust's working processes.