Sarah & Charles
We wouldn't say our characters are solely created out of personal memories. Often they are inspired by the context and the feelings a certain place provoke.
The characters intend to be very layered since they are partly our own recollections and ideas, assembled with the inspiration the place provides us. By adding the element of fiction, we create an idea, a stereotype of a character. This allows us to obtain a distance in order to protect us from our own memories.
The motivation behind creating these characters comes out of our desire to try to understand the world. In a way, we hope, the characters we create, observe the world from another angle then we do. They our often created very spontaneously and their meaning becomes clear a long while after they've been given birth. During the process of shaping them, we collide with them into some kind of reflective image. The character is showing us something and we adapt to its point of view.
When we talk about characters in our work, we talk about 'sceneries'.
The character can be seen as a metaphor for the room or the surroundings in which the visitor positions himself. Often the visitor becomes an 'actor' in the work. In that case the room is more of a director, telling the actor how to think and to behave. The room is therefore very dominant and is often very demanding. This element of power is created trough a setting of very authentic and recognizing elements. The room as a director decides how much the visitor is allowed to see and to experience. This can evolve into extreme situations where, as in the work 'Overcast' the visitor is not allowed to actually see the work.
This could suggest that the work is very linear. However since a storyline doesn't has to be linear, it can be read in many different ways. This is accentuated in the 'Nowhere to be found' series. The work is a diptych that relates to present and past times. Despite the fact that the character, representing 'the present' is showing more symptoms of the past, it is actually performing in the now. Whereas the character symbolizing 'the past', connects elements of a certain generation into a recognizable present.
In the situation 'Nowhere to be found - present', Our fictional character disappeared but somehow his voice got trapped into the old radio, standing on his bookshelf. Trough this radio he can communicate with the visitor, explaining his despair and anxiety, making the visitor accessory to his story. The visitor performs the role of the witness to the action in display. Which actually, were it a book, would make him the narrator. In the sequel of this story we focus on the character of the old man's daughter. The old man will always remember her as a young woman who he last saw when she was in her mid twenties. So in the second part of the work we show this memory of the old man. The memory of the conversation he had with his daughter. A last chance in reconciling. A memory he wishes he could change but his stubbornness did not allow him. It is this memory, which buried him into his old little room, in which he eventually finds his death. The two situations shown together, making them one chapter, focus on this way of involving the visitor as a witness in the action or non-action displayed.
In former works this happened often, though incited differently. In the installations 'Com-mu-mi-fication', 'The Waiting Room' and 'He thinks, She thinks', the visitor can only experience what is happening, not change it. Even if it seems there is a possibility to, a likelihood his presence will influences the work, nothing can actually change the given situation.
In the recent situation 'Overcast', this is somehow different. The visitor is free to see what the character of the room is allowing him to see, but his actions do influence the work and the situation in which he will find himself in an approach towards the work. Somehow the visitor obtains a freedom he does not experience in the other works.
In this way of working lies our interest and our challenge which we try to apply in new installations and situations.