For ‘Open Heart Surgery’ Faramaway presented a pair of videos installed on a sculptural plinth in front of a series of wall works. The video works, one portrait and one landscape format, hand off to one another, sharing a sublime rendering in which iridescent 3D blobs collide, envelop and obliterate one another to electronic drone music or the sound of waves lapping. In ‘Trocadero’ this highly polished material is set against’ ‘shaky’ ‘handheld footage of friend’s chatting in the back of a bus and at a video game arcade played on the artist’s desktop, the screen recording layered and distorted with effects in a performed viewing.
‘I’ve been collecting incidental footage taken mostly on my phone on the way to places, in spaces like airports and malls in different cities and countries. I wanted to find a way of ordering these sequences into something to be communicated and understood, so I screen captured them playing on my desktop. The videos became quite complex in terms of how they construct a continually shifting diagetic space, at points flattening, foregrounding their monitor’s surface and at others, through collage, creating what I’ve come to see as a space akin to a stage set… ‘
Excerpt from ‘Adam Faramaway in conversation with Celia Hempton’, Open Heart Surgery exhibition catalogue
In ‘Trocadero_2(_beach_holiday)’ a Rihanna remix is played at the same time as footage of the song performed live, the desktop stage interfacing with that of the musician’s and the viewing environment, the Brutalist shell of 180 Strand. The desktop mix bears a rhythmic ebb and flow, the artist stating that ‘if there is any sense of a linearity or narrative motion in these works it is one of continual disavowal, where something is presented as certain and then pushed back.’ Both films employ an ultra-widescreen format, a stylistic choice seen perhaps more often in online, in-store, and video billboard advertising and in born-digital media such as the series House of Cards and certain music videos (including Rihanna’s) – spaces in which attentions shift at an ever-increasing pace. In creating a dialogue between personal and commercial imagery and spaces, these works recall the Wildean sentiment that ‘In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.’
On the back wall scree paintings simulate in low relief the broken rock fragments that accumulate at the base of crags, mountain cliffs, and volcanoes. This material is coated in a glossy metallic silver that pools at its base and is pocketed by airbrushed sulphuric green spots based on screen savers. The artist has drawn parallels between this series and ‘Liquid Sunset’ a downloadable desktop wallpaper in which an image of a sunset is continuously animated by a layer of CGI liquid that is alternately poured onto and and swiped off of a simulated surface. The operating space becomes a shallow pane on which an image of wanderlust is revealed and withdrawn ad infinitum. In each work there is a visual disintegration as form and surface, image and effect contend.
As a whole the installation frames our everyday media landscape as a constant negotiation between facade and immersion – a space lacking an immobile outside point of reference, navigable only by constant reference to the immediate environment. The artist’s real and virtual spaces of operation become a shared stage upon which disparate modes of authorship and viewership are performed side by side.
Adham Faramawy (b. 1981, Dubai) is an artist living and working in London interested in the influence of technology on the construction of self and identity. The body is central to his practice and is approached as a primary, sensual site in which gender and sexuality are fluid. He received his MA in Fine Art from The Royal Academy of Arts, London and his BA in Fine Art from The Slade School of Fine Art, London. Selected solo exhibitions include Bluecoat, Liverpool, 2016; Annin Arts, London Bridge Station, London, 2016; Annin Arts, Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, London, 2015; VITRINE, London, 2015; Marian Cramer, Amsterdam, 2014; Cell Projects, London, 2014; Legion TV, 2012. Recent group presentations and screenings include The Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2017; UCA, Canterbury, 2016; Stills Gallery, Sydney, 2016; Green Ray, London, 2016; CREATE, London, 2016; The White Building, London, 2016; Turf Projects, Croydon, 2016; Wilkinson Gallery, London, 2016; Kaleidoscope Magazine, Milan, 2015; SEIZE, Leeds 2015; ICA, London 2015; Nottingham Contemporary, 2015; Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2015; tank.tv, London 2015; Fiorucci Art Trust, 2015; Royal Academy Schools Symposium, 2015; Castlefield Gallery, Machester, 2015; Ex Elettrofonica, Rome, 2015. Faramawy’s video works have been included in screening events such as Flatness, Oberhausen Film Festival, Syndrome of a Decade, Ikono Film Festival, Diamond Dust- A shifting grammar of originality, Circa Projects, Edinburgh Arts Festival and 21st Century Pop at the ICA, London touring to Turner Contemporary, Margate, MK, Milton Keynes, Cornerhouse, Manchester and Tramway in Glasgow. His sculptural mobile app ‘Hi! I’m happy you’re here!’, 2015 is available from the App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android). www.adhamfaramawy.com