A new world view

Why do some people see the world as they do? Jolyon James and Raphael Ruz reflect their world view not only through their imagery, but also through the creative process they adopt. The 14 large-scale works produced in collaboration between these two artists encourage viewers to leave their preconceived ideas of digital photography at the door and be challenged, engaged and stimulated.

LocuLocu is the graffiti-like signature of James and Ruz that appears on each of the artworks, adding a further dimension to the complex artificial landscape imagery the artists create by using hundreds of photographs. The fluency and skill with which they apply Photoshop and digital imagery techniques is in itself a discussion of their world. The many individual digital images have been painstakingly merged together to achieve 14 seamless images. This allows the viewer to observe every detail from any viewpoint, with the same angle and clarity as the photographer. The very notion that you can observe a single, large-scale photographic image without perspective or the distortion usually associated with the traditional photographic lens is liberating. It also suggests that digital photography has its own identity and that LocuLocu are in the forefront of discovering the medium’s infinite possibilities.

LocuLocu’s latest series, GreyNation (2005), follows their notorious Anne Geddes-inspired Infant Series in 2002 and the Rubik Self of 2004. These contemporary photographs, all exhibited in provocative pink frames, engage the mind from the first moment and continue to challenge the social and cultural truths that surround us in our ‘real’ world.

The Autumn self promotes self-discovery and raises doubt about the space in which we exist. Standing in front of the vivid green two-metre cyclone wire fence, with nothing more than a grey, dimensionless void and a reflection of oneself, we question our existence, recall memories of freedom and captivity, and seek knowledge and direction beyond the given boundaries. Demands are placed upon our emotive and visual responses.

The elements within Twenty Eight self also captivate with the presence of the grey void. A reference, perhaps, to the technological base grey or alluding to a finite horizon? If the digital process, in its very basic form, paints with pixels of colour that are reflections of light, then this image has transformed the light into a commentary of our cultural existence. The Rubik’s cube, the voyeuristic bird, the tree as a barren net capture—or support—an Australian identity. The clouds separate the southern hemisphere’s light from that of the north, and the sketched drawing marks hint at the destruction from our past. This is a displaced Australian landscape, offered as an alternative to the surreal perfection we so often encounter.

Following the Rubik’s cubes’ journey throughout the exhibition invites humour. Attached to each of the works is a gift bag containing a packaged Rubik cube and the instruction manual. The cube, unlike those represented in the photographs, is entirely silver. A metaphor for the choices and decisions we make in life, or perhaps the perceived perfection we strive to achieve?

There are many elements in the work of James and Ruz that resonate with a strong sense of traditional art and a work ethic that would make Lance Armstrong wilt. Helioscope depicts Ruz as the central character, a man in motorbike leathers dead on the floor of a clinical crash test site. Ruz is lifeless, yet ethereal, like one of Andrea del Sarto’s angels. He lies amidst fragments of glass which appear random but are in fact meticulously placed to form the Milky Way galaxy. Does the figure allude to the human condition, man’s frailty or his inconsequence? Looking at the figure, we are acutely aware that despite our attempts to build the perfect machine we are ultimately of flesh and soul. Man is not greater than the Earth. It’s a recurring theme in the work of LocuLocu and they use many symbols to trigger associations in the viewing audience.

James and Ruz believe that viewers’ emotional readiness will interpret and discover a context within the artwork for themselves. In the same way that LocuLocu are themselves transformed when they first see the printed image, the anticipation of how their skill and creative application might develop will be a journey well worth taking in the future.

Joanne Davies is an artist and educator and Michelle Medhurst is an artist and photography teacher.

 

 

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