Wendy McMurdo - Indeterminate Objects (Classrooms)
Press Release: 5 October 2017
Indeterminate Objects (Classrooms) is a new exhibition by award winning Scottish photographer Wendy McMurdo. Presented on the Gallery’s Media Wall, it continues an interest in exploring our evolving relationships with digitally generated information and in particular looks at the effect of computers on children.
There is increasing recognition that data is one of the most important factors in shaping and understanding our modern world, but its influence on children is still unclear. Whereas the predominant influence on children used to be the institutions of school and family, in today’s culture, children – like adults - are increasingly subject to a world augmented by data and simulation that informs most of their waking day – and even their nights. Children have been observed ‘building’ during sleep; their hands scrabbling about as if stacking bricks as they might in the virtual worlds of computer games and even adults report dreaming of these strange environments.
For this project, McMurdo used her own observations and other research to highlight the pervasive nature of these games and the way that they shape the way that children now think, play and learn. Combining photography with the three-dimensional techniques more usually associated with computer games such as Minecraft she presents a series of standard classroom interiors at a primary school near her home in Edinburgh. The traditional elements - desks, bookshelf, children’s drawings, teachers desk - are linked by a series of floating 3D visuals representing the influence of new technologies. As these abstract forms hover and rotate above the desks, they cast shadows on the classroom floor, which appear as real as those cast by the classroom furniture. Through this expression of ‘indeterminate objects’ McMurdo reflects the persistent nature of these unseen forces and raises pertinent questions around the impact of such ever-increasing data immersion on young identities
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Notes for Editors Wendy McMurdo
Wendy McMurdo was born in Edinburgh where she initially trained as a painter. She left the UK in the mid 1980s for the Pratt Institute, New York. While studying there, she turned to photography and on returning to the UK, began to work for the first time with this medium.
After completing an MA at Goldsmiths College, London, she was awarded a two-year fellowship by The Henry Moore Foundation. These two years were to prove critical in her development and in 1993 she produced her first major solo exhibition In a Shaded Place. Working for the first time with the computer, she produced a series that explored the intersection between autographic photography and the digital image.
The rapid proliferation of computers in schools provided the context for the development of her next body of work that looked directly at the influence of computers on early years education. Working closely with local schools, she explored the role of the child within the school, the growth of the Internet and the development of networked play. In related projects, she shadowed school parties on educational visits to various local museums, a process which evolved naturally from photographing in the classroom. From this, she produced series of works that explored the ways in which children related to the museum and its objects in a world of increasing simulation.
These projects were shown throughout Europe in exhibitions such as The Anagrammatical Body: The Body and its Photographic Condition curated by Christa Steinle and Peter Weibel for ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany; Uncanny, curated by Urs Stahel for the Fotomuseum Wintherthur and Only Make Believe curated by Marina Warner for Compton Verney, Warwickshire, UK.
In 2014 a mid-career retrospective exhibition of her work Digital Play was included as part of Generation – 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland, a nationwide programme of exhibitions and events celebrating the last 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland. This comprehensive exhibition brought together works from several of her film and photography projects. In 2015 she was awarded a PhD by publication by the University of Westminster for her work exploring the relationship of children and photography to the computer.
About TPG’s Digital Programme
The Photographers’ Gallery digital programme that explores the myriad roles that photography plays in our everyday lives, particularly through new media and digital technologies. Manifested across online sites and physical spaces the programme offers a range of platforms for discovery and engagement.
Unthinking Photography is an online resource addressing photography, automation and computation through a wide-ranging set of materials and references.
The Media Wall is a permanent exhibition space on the ground floor of the gallery, which addresses digital transformations in photography. Recent commissions and projects include Food For Being Looked At, Morehshin Allahyari – She Who Sees The Unknown: Ya’jooj Ma’jooj, and Joey Holder - Selachimorpha.
TPG Geekenders are bi-annual gallery takeovers of workshops, discussions and evening events unpacking the relationship between photography and technology. The next Geekender explores the ways that the analogue has become intensified and fetishised in digital culture. Hyperanalogue takes place on 11 & 12 November 2017
The Photographers’ Gallery
The Photographers’ Gallery opened in 1971 in Great Newport Street, London, as the UK’s first
independent gallery devoted to photography. It was the first public gallery in the UK to exhibit many key names in international photography, including Juergen Teller, Robert Capa, Sebastião Salgado and Andreas Gursky. The Gallery has also been instrumental in establishing contemporary British photographers, including Martin Parr and Corinne Day. In 2009, the Gallery moved to 16 – 18 Ramillies Street in Soho, the first stage in its plan to create a 21st century home for photography. Following an eighteen months long redevelopment project, the Gallery reopened to the public in 2012. The success of The Photographers’ Gallery over the past four decades has helped to establish photography as a recognised art form, introducing new audiences to photography and championing its place at the heart of visual culture. www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk
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