Still from Nativity - a moving image artwork by Martha Fiennes (detail) View full image


© SLOimage


Thursday 29 September 2016 | 6.30pm - 9pm
7.30pm | In conversation with the artist

The work of filmmaker, director, writer, and artist Martha Fiennes is deeply rooted in the history of aesthetics, as depicted in the European pictorial tradition. Paired with her enduring preoccupation to find an encompassing equivalent to the concepts of time, space and memory, Fiennes has created a unique and comprehensive vocabulary to deliver a narrative of great intellectual depth and of exquisite visual expression.

The pursuit of beauty as a defining conceptual framework remains central in Fiennes most recent moving image work, entitled Nativity.  Thematically influenced by various renaissance painters [Bellini, Jan Gossaert and Piero della Francesca] -mainly concerned with Christ’s Nativity- the work stages the story protagonists set against an ever changing landscape of architectural forms and a striking display of stylised mannerism, featuring Mary as the focal point of its composition.

In Nativity, Fiennes is interested in the way by which storytelling tradition has evolved throughout the passage of time and subsequently, in the way narratives have been constructed, conveyed, transmitted and remembered.  Collective memory in particular has consistently revisited history and rewritten its substance according to paradigms and beliefs in vogue at the time. Fiennes’ portrait of legacy and heritage is not however specifically concerned with the past, rather geared towards the future, or more accurately towards the present.

The work presents the viewer with a series of frames shot independently from each other and then randomly edited into a sequence of moving and still images originated by a real-time computer-coded algorithm, which decides the story configuration every time the work is displayed. As a result, the film can never repeat itself and the viewer shall never experience the same sequence of imagery twice. The composition of figures, backgrounds, colour, light and an infinite number of other details, follows a new, “randomly” constructed pattern whenever the system is activated.

The non-repetitive nature of the work trespasses the intrinsic frameworks traditionally associated with the art of story telling but also that of the medium of film. The story of Nativity is never told twice the same way, both in the content and in the format, which hints playfully at what we, in this nascent century, fail to see and understand through the fissures of time, space and history. The unprecedented amount of empirical and factual data accumulated in recent history have placed us in a reality characterized by a virtual wealth of possibilities and choices; and where realistically, no choice is ultimately a promising script for a better future. These are namely the legacies of modernism and postmodernism but the genius of Fiennes in this visionary work resides in her critical, unequivocal definition of the present, or more accurately the motion of the present: a perfect moment pregnant of potential, revealing in retrospect what it had in prospect.

Nativity has been showcased at the National Gallery in London, The Arts Arena in Paris and now at Maestro Arts Gallery. The work will also be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in December 2016. .

About the technology:

Nativity marks the first in a series of works using SLOimage. The technology was conceived by Martha Fiennes and developed with Producer Peter Muggleston and with MPC London and Existential Software.

Downloadable Press Release