Henry Driver is a digital artist whose works allow viewers to immerse themselves in a complete sensorial evaluation of the visual and audible world of art. Through video art, Driver can explore concepts of glitch, refraction, and layering to pursue the expansion of new information from visual experiences. All aspects of display are applied to the exhibition of his work involving architecture, perception, and tradition, and often times taking advantage of the unique qualities of a space. Ultimately, Driver’s work seeks to answer the questions that rise at the intersection of physical and digital representation. His work has been seen internationally from Liverpool, Berlin, Sydney, and beyond, translating visual communications across various cultures and traditions and inspiring conversations in the digital world.
Tell me about how your relationship with video art began and how you were able to explore it.
It was the fluidity of the medium which first drew me to video, the ability to change from frame to frame or continuously loop, to create a non-static image. I was also allured by the possibility of creating works which were random, unexpected or completely impossible within other mediums. At the time I had grown tired of being in control of work and hence was very interested in glitch related ways of creation. These early works revolved around the pushing and exploration of obsolete or broken technology such VCRs, camera phones, TVs and ancient laptops. Finally I was interested in the synthesis of audio and imagery, the relationship and the effects caused.
At the time I had grown tired of being in control of work and hence was very interested in glitch related ways of creation.
What influences, like academia or other artists, influenced your relationship with video art that you would say were crucial in its development?
A figure who really stood out and inspired me initially was Yoshi Sodeoka, his series of Distortion prints and deeply psychedelic videos demonstrated the possibilities of working with video/sound and digital/analogue technologies. As for writers Rosa Menkman, Lev Manovich and Jean Baudrillard were all influential in expanding my ways of thinking around the subject.
From these writers, what theories do you often see yourself applying to your work? Menkman is heavily influenced by glitch art, which I can definitely see reflected.
What these theorists really ignited was my fascination in the speed at which the digital and virtual worlds are developing, are increasingly dominating our lives, and the issues that this raises. As the boundaries between physical and digital dissolve a number of questions must arise. Most prominent, where does the digital world end and the physical begin? It is the questioning, demonstrating and blurring of this that my work investigates and has centred around. Specifically the themes of being between states, the blurring of lines between virtual and physical, or simulated and real.
What these theorists really ignited was my fascination in the speed at which the digital and virtual worlds are developing, are increasingly dominating our lives, and the issues that this raises.
How would you encourage your viewers to interpret these theories like you have?
I try to communicate and demonstrate these theories in a visually powerful and explicit manner to the audience. To demonstrate it before their eyes and hopefully ignite discussions and dialogues for the viewer surrounding these theories.
How do you use sound to enhance digital images?
The ability of sound to emphasize, communicate, enhance or disrupt and the combining of this with imagery is an essential part in the communication of themes as well as atmosphere. I use sound to not only reinforce the concept but to further explore it in its own right. My videos use sound as an integral part of the editing and structuring of the film and it is during this process that I try create a synergy between the two. A lot of my sound effects and film editing or swapping from shots is rhythmically inspired.
Your work has been shared internationally across many languages and cultures. How do you use digital images and sound to communicate with viewers who are very similar, but in the same way very different?
The works all rely on visual or sonic language to communicate meaning, the interpretation and understanding of this can be universal, despite language or culture differences. Equally, when editing I exercise a voracious amount of cutting and refining of shots and length. I have a desire to be as efficient as possible cutting out anything unnecessary or self-indulgent, this clearness or clarity probably aids in the work’s understanding throughout languages and cultures.
the interpretation and understanding of this can be universal, despite language or culture differences
What kind of research practices do you typically perform before creating new works?
My research practices or ways of inspiring or starting work can vary. Sometimes I will be interested in a specific topic or issue and will read texts or essays revolving around this, which not only informs but also gets my thought process working quite well. Often, if I am a little bit stuck or unsure how to proceed I will read up on an artist I like or a collection of digital/video artists and this process will help clear my mind and I will often feel very inspired despite reading something unrelated to my work. For some works a lot of the research is visual, testing and understanding ideas or collecting imagery.
Describe the importance of architecture in exhibiting your work. Do you ever struggle with a space that can’t display your work to its visual potential, or does your work evolve the space it is displayed in to create new potential for the architecture?
The importance, effect and use of architecture when exhibiting my work can often vary depending on the circumstances as well as the specifics of a piece or project. For the event Phantom at Firstsite I was very much responding to not only the architecture but also how the space is normally used to show work, as well as the audience’s expectations. The gallery was designed by Rafael Vinoly, there is a massive glass front and incredibly large sloping walls which often find themselves left blank and empty. I wanted to take advantage of these seldom used spaces and alter how work could be exhibited and viewed within the space, as well as how audiences traverse the space. This manifested in large scale projections, hijacking screens for videos normally only used for exhibition posters, as well as intimate smaller projections in corners with curious compositions or framings. However, often for work in smaller spaces I will be taking a more cinematic approach creating an immersive environment where the architecture is needed to recede, with the work becoming all that the viewers are aware of. For example showing the work in complete darkness and blacking out the space’s walls. Light and the levels of this is also an element which affects or restricts the display of certain works. I have quite a few very immersive works which depend on total darkness for their effects.
In your opinion, what is the importance of human interaction with images in the digital age?
The number of images consumed, sent and viewed by many people today is enormous. With the types of images ranging from real/accurate, to edited or modified and finally to simulations. What interests me is how we define images, as well as, the line between twin conflicting states. I am interested in creating and exploring imagery that is equally abstract as it is recognizable, artificial as it is natural, and real as it is simulated. I find this to be an intriguing proposition as we are confronted with such a large number and variety of image types.
A Tender Vision
Last modified: January 24, 2016