Stef Will

Stef Will

• 15 February 2023

Going up … and staying up

This week, a couple of works from my Blue Monday series were installed in London. It was good to see them going up (…and staying up, given they weigh over 30kg each!).

‘Blue Monday’ is a series encouraging the viewer to re-evaluate how we see and experience the world around us. The two images in each ‘Blue Monday’ work were taken simultaneously, one image with a thermal, the other with a daylight camera (the latter being taken by the camera without me seeing the image, introducing an interesting element of chance to the work).

All images were taken in a heathland forest on Blue Monday 2022, the most melancholic day of the year. On closer inspection however an energetic dialogue becomes visible, as the viewer witnesses the merging of energies between forest trees and other flora, as well as their invisible dialogue with the sun. The trees are gently being warmed by the sun, carrying traces of the sun’s energy, juxtaposed to the crisp winter air. The landscape’s energy field also merges and entangles with our body’s energy field, and with this it becomes evident that everything is connected.

The work uses the algorithmic gaze as an instrument to help examine and make sense of the world by looking beyond the surface, both physically and metaphorically. ‘Blue Monday’ not only visualises aspects of awareness that are ordinarily felt rather than seen, i.e. heat, but also explores dual concepts of embodied experience such as matter versus energy and particle versus wave, thus questioning Newton’s mechanistic, material view of the world. The unfocused appearance of the thermal images speaks of dematerialisation, a heritage shared with dematerialisation of the art object in conceptual art.

The meditation on energy as our true life-force is extended by a hidden sigil drawing (see previous blog post for more detail) within the work. The digitised ink drawing, disrupting boundaries between analogue and digital, displays a sigil, a symbolic mark appropriated from the practice of magic, containing a ritually condensed, energetic intention embodying the practitioner’s desired outcome, in this case the wish for a better world.

Also integrated into each work is a drop of my own blood (safely embedded in resin), which not only serves as a symbol of identity and physical embodiment and thus a reflection on what it means to be alive and in body, but also alludes with its containing DNA to biomedical surveillance. The artist’s blood as the ultimate mark of identity (and therefore also an extension of the artist signature) activates the work in ritualistic manner.

Being challenged and looking at the world in a new, unfamiliar way (with ‘different eyes’..) both challenges perception and the traditional hierarchy of the senses, but also allows the viewer to fundamentally rethink their perceived nature of reality, up to the point of fully deconstructing (referenced by the pixelation visual) and reconstructing it.

Via the algorithmic gaze of the far-infrared lens, evidence of an unseen world is presented, as the work makes invisible facets of reality accessible to the human gaze, attesting to the fact that the human eye as the ultimate indicator of truth is and always has been an illusion. The inversion of the daylight image speaks of the inversion of images on the eye’s retina, which our brain swiftly reverses for us, before we even notice, another suggestion that not all is as it seems on first impression.

Once one aspect of reality is questioned, other questions may follow suit – because once you see, you can’t unsee. The work ultimately empowers the viewer to take control and personal sovereignty and has been hailed as an icon for the willingness to question, challenge and pursue the truth.

The prints are just over A0 in size each (framed size: 149 x 107cm), printed on Hahnemühle 310gsm William Turner Paper. They are mounted behind museum grade, UV-protective, low-glare glass with a simple black wooden frame. I got these done with an extra deep, special double mount I developed together with the framer. They come as a pair, consisting of a limited edition (x/12) fine art print and corresponding NFT.