Hackney artists make Guggenheim YouTube shortlist

Two Hackney artists have been shortlisted for the prestigious Guggenheim YouTube Play award. Russell Higgs and Mark Hamilton Gruchy are among the eight entries from the UK to have been included on the shortlist of 125, selected from over 23,000 videos from 91 countries.

Russell Higgs’s mesmerising film, entitled 999 Days: Russell Higgs Urban Barbarian, consists of 999 photographs of the artist’s head variously adorned. Each photo appears on the screen for a fraction of a second, before being replaced by a picture of the same face with the same deadpan expression, but another outlandish costume. The photographs were made over period of 999 consecutive days between 3 September 2006 and 29 May 2009, and the work was completed in March 2010.

“I think of it as Citizen Higgs clocking in, day after day after day,” says native Londoner Higgs of his video. “Broadly speaking it is a project about Being and Time. One of my primary interests was a desire to work and play within fixed boundaries and commitments; for instance I had to create each self portrait every single day before midnight, I never cheated by creating any images in advance or in retrospect.

“The project was also a natural progression from my earlier commitment to Naked Protesting, in the sense of exploring the idea that a culture’s power structure depends largely on how we look and how we are looked at.”

The equally compelling entry by Mark Hamilton Gruchy is called simply Continuum. This film is made largely from stills of stark, haunting urban scenes animated using 2D and 3D digital techniques.

Photographer and artist Hamilton Gruchy, who comes originally from Jamaica, says the film was “inspired by the long takes in Hitchcock’s 1948 film Rope.” He explains: “By manipulating the orientation of objects in space with unsettling camerawork, the senses are unable to interpret a conventionally familiar environment. Continuum is an attempt to cause a degree of disquiet without the use of distinctive, narrative manipulation.

“The viewer is mildly disoriented as a result of the combination by moving through various spatial axes, combined and synchronised with, abstract sounds. Aesthetic and physical relief is delivered when the imagery resolves to the familiar upright world and we reacquaint ourselves with humanity.”

The jury is currently reviewing the shortlist, and from it they will select the top videos that will be unveiled at a special celebration on October 21, 2010, at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Following this, the videos selected by the jury will be on view to the public from October 22-24 in the Tower 2 Gallery of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and at kiosks at the Guggenheim Museums in Bilbao, Berlin and Venice, as well as on the on the YouTube Play channel.

A preview of the YouTube Play shortlist can be viewed here.



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