Interview with Karel Bata in ARTiculAction magazine.
Click on image to open in fresh window.
This is quite mystical. In some parts of Asia, we believe there are spirits which reside in trees. Here, the British artist Karel Bata marries the persona of the tree with the portraits of people who had inspired him. Look closely at the details as the projections are set against the tree… then watch as it blinks and morphs into another face. Ingenious.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – –– David Sucha, Life’s Tiny Miracles
The one that did catch my attention was The Tree that Blinked. This ghostly display uses spotlights to form a person’s face on a large Banyan Tree, which then blink and change every now and then. …the face literally pops out at you the moment you shift into the correct viewing spot. I found this to be very, very smart.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – –– The Scribbling Geek
My favourite of the whole festival however was The Tree That Blinked. It was amazing in so many ways, but the symbolism behind it was subjective which meant different meanings could come from this animated projection.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – Kara Bertoncini, The AU Review
In 2017 Singapore Night Festival celebrated their 10th anniversary with 600,000 visitors. They had seen my earlier work and asked me to create something around their century-old Banyan tree to celebrate its antiquity. I was happy to oblige with my installation The Tree That Blinked.
It is a series of digitally manipulated portraits projected into an old Banyan tree in which I trigger and explore the mystery and myths that form such a large part of our perception of woodlands. The work moves and shifts as the leaves are blown in the wind, so facial expressions seem to change too and the faces appear to undergo transformations of age and identity. Blended with real movements in the faces, and subtle morphs from face to face, this provides a compelling illuison of something alive within the tree, of spirits within.
This was first shown in embryonic form at Gallery 286 in London. At the time viewers referenced childhood stories or experiences of mysterious forests and strange creatures, and even ideas of layered consciousness. Some saw the tree as benign. I have taken these comments on board, and the piece has grown with these ideas.
Click for video (2 mins)
Some stills (Click any image to see a larger version)
An installation of projected stereoscopic ‘living statues’.
At the core of Platform is a series of Stereo 3D ‘living statues’ of rail passengers captured with a high-speed camera and frozen mid-gesture as we move past them.
Platform is an istallation that evolves with the physical particularities of the venue it is in. The piece uses a large Stereo 3D screen made from non-standard projection material (such as a builder’s sheet!) giving a sense of the piece organically sited in its setting. It is presented using an innovative system using two 4k projectors that give an unusually bright 3D image.
Platform is suited to a large space, but is very adaptable, and can be presented more simply, or in a smaller space, using a conventional 3D TV screen.
Platform was first presented at EXP Hackney, London, November 2017.
A Projection Mapping installation staged at the Phoenix gallery in Brighton as part of Alex May’s Painting With Light event in December 2014.
There is a very convincing illusion here of a light moving around inside the room and illuminating the piece. However there is only the one projector, and the effect of this absence is disjointing. Some see it as creepy, some as beautiful. (Few are left unimpressed.)
Click to play video Out of Darkness
note: the flicker visible in the video above is due to camera frame-rate. Likewise the color has been reproduced inaccurately. The live piece is creamy white and free from any flicker or artifacts.
The music here was added during editing for Vimeo. The piece itself is silent.
This installation has also been shown at London Decompressed (Burning Man), Gallery 286, and Flux.
Note to arts curators:
Much of Out Of Darkness can be prepped off-site. But because the specific geometry of the venue is important here the final assembly and filming needs to be done on site. Providing that rigging the projector is straightforward, this would take the best part of a day.
The venue does not have to be blacked out, but the darker it is the better.
I would welcome the opportunity to create a much larger version of this!
In my 20s I devoured the monochrome photography of Walker Evans, Robert Capa, the NFA, etc. I must bought bought the whole PhotoPoche library. I was also a frequent visitor to Soho’s Photographers’ Gallery, and it was there I was blown away by Lucas Samaras’ bold use of colour, and his physical manipulation of Polaroid prints – so radical back then!
I saved up, bought a SX70 Camera, and set about moulding the dye layers as images formed, heating the prints, taking them apart, and even putting them in the microwave. Sparks flew(!) and each image was unique, yet a style clearly emerged that was all my own.
Such a shame the stock was discontinued. Here’s a couple of my prints. Click for a closer look.