Drawing and Speech
For over two decades Geoffrey Shea has been creating idiosyncratic video installations and interactive works laced with de-nuded language and stripped- down technology to question not only the tales we tell ourselves, but the very telling itself.
In a recent essay, Michael Tweed observes, "The authority of the word, even the comforting sovereignty of the image, is revealed to be what it is: the elegant cloak of our still timid unknowing. Shea does not impose or catalogue the seemingly countless variations of melancholy and despair to which we are prone. What he does provide however is a sort of topography of courage, sketching the geography that stretches between optimism and resignation, hope and despair."
With this exhibition Geoffrey Shea gives us three recent works that intersect language differently.
Speech (I Want to Know) is a video installation that looks at the artist's three years as an elected politician. From a (literally) empty campaign speech to a flood of pointless motions and bylaws, language plays a stifling, muted role. But an oh-so-earnest song and a laugh track from some unseen performance turn the experience upside down.
Drawing of a Man is a series of 16-foot tall charcoal sketches with video projected on them. Shea created these drawings to illustrate a now-absent story. Just as in Speech, he appears in the work, performing as a politician, in Drawing we see him performing as an artist.
Writing Machine is an interactive, typewriter-like tool for making words and phrases into concrete poetry. Yet nothing is written - only spoken - and our impulse to create shifts to a rhythmic, musical one.
Geoffrey Shea is a media artist based in Durham, Ontario. Shea's artwork has been presented internationally and is represented in the collections of the National Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art. As well as producing, Shea curates and writes about art and film, most recently as a regular programmer for the Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film. Currently his research is in mobile content and the creation of new wireless hardware and software platforms for art.