For over twenty years the artists have worked on innovative new approaches to painting, sculpture, and installation, most notably through their development of a range of camera-less photographic printing techniques and their groundbreaking approach to digital imagery and animation.
Q. How would you define your work in three words?
Incorporate, rejuvenate, invigorate.
Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?
Our earliest works comprised of photograms where we produced abstract pictures using a build-up of colour however, there is not one specific medium that we work in. The main core of our work is similarly still focused on the limits of and form of light and colour but is expressed using a variety of mediums such as painting, photography, neon, digital imagery and sculpture.
Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?
The inspiration for our work derives from examining the boundaries between the real and the imagined, the analogue and the digital and the traditional and the contemporary. We enjoy studying historical processes and themes and making these subjects relevant to present day.
For example, our ‘Transforming’ series was initially informed by the knowledge that museum visitors, on average look at a painting for a mere 4-6 seconds. In an attempt to inspire visitors to look for longer it became our ambition to create a body of work that rewarded viewers for the extra time spent looking, through the introduction of new and interesting elements. We want to slow the viewer down, draw them in, and make them re-examine the work. Working with a team of digital animators we have created animated versions of Old Master works such as Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s (1573-1621) ‘Vase with Flowers in a Window’, 1618 and Giorgione’s (c.1478-1510). ‘Sleeping Venus’, c.1510.
The latest work in the series, ‘Transforming Landscape Painting’, is based on John Constable’s (1776-1837) ‘Study for the Cornfield’, c.1817. Every aspect has been brought to life and the seamless two and a half-hour loop takes the painted scene from dawn to dusk.
Only perceptible upon sustained looking, the landscape displays subtle shifts in colour and light as the clouds pass by, the sun moves in the sky, the stars and the moon emerge. Each blade of corn, each leaf on a tree and each ripple in the water has been informed by actual real time footage. It has been brought to life with over 7,000 man-hours of digital animation.
Q. Take us through your working process.
For us the process of working together is integral to our practice and in turn the finished work. By working together we are constantly bouncing ideas off each other, meaning our ideas are continually being refined.
Our ‘Yoga Photograms’ grew from our fascination with the methods of the forerunners of photography such as Fox Talbot, who made photographs by shining light through a transparent object. We enjoy pushing such methods forward and creating new images; we are referencing old processes but previously creating photograms on this scale would not have been possible.
‘Yoga Photograms’ began with the desire to create a series with the figure as the subject. When doing camera-less tests we became fascinated by the un-exposed areas of paper where contact had been made and we could pick out details such as a profile. This led us onto a series where contact was the main focus. With Yoga such an important part of Nicky’s life, Yoga asanas became the perfect source of positions to experiment making direct contact onto the paper.
All ‘Yoga Photograms’ have been made in complete darkness by lying nude in a Yoga position directly onto a large piece of photographic paper. This process is as pure as photography can be, made by a single flash of light onto light sensitive paper. Each work is unique and although photographic there is no camera, lens or negative used in the making of the work. They are all life size.
Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?
It was a sunny afternoon in 1998. We were stuck in a dark room creating abstract images with light on photographic paper. Once the images were processed, Nicky applied paint to the prints.
That evening a friend of ours Billy Brannigan came over for tea and bought our first three unique works, ‘RN 1, 2 and 3’ whilst they were still wet.
Q. ACS works with a number of universities throughout the UK to educate the next generation of artists about their intellectual property rights. How has ACS helped protect and promote your interests as artists during your career?
ACS has always been incredibly helpful in promoting our exhibitions and giving advice on copyright. Our ‘Transforming Photograph’ was made from Edward Steichen’s (1879-1973) ‘Gloria Swanson’, 1924. The original photograph is part of the Bridgeman Images collection and ACS managed to secure us rights to use the photograph.
Rob and Nick Carter's latest photographic series 'Paint Pigment Photographs' is currently on display at dedicated studio and exhibition space RN at 5A until 28 April.
During TEFAF Maastricht, Ben Brown Fine Arts will present three new ‘Transforming’ film works based on paintings from the Dutch Golden Age during 10 – 18 March at Stand 524.
For more information on ‘Paint Pigment Photographs’, please visit www.robandnick.com.