Swell (1996)

In Swell, lenses orbit the cylindrical projector body, casting moving trajectories of focused
vignettes that are perpetually revisited, looping repetitively around the space. Hundreds of portraits
spanning the history of photography have been cropped of their original contexts and re-arranged
according to facial expression. Mounted upsidedown on the projector's body, the individuals in this sea
of faces are upturned by the lenses and made fleetingly available to the viewer. As the scanning lenses orbit and progress across
the transperancy's surface, they reveal populations of portraits who's facial expressions subtly shift through
open mouthed gazes, frowns, smirks, toothy grins and back to gazes, undoing the (original) portraits'
establishment of social context (and by extension 'social order', or suggested heirarchies; thus 'equalizing the playing field').
For example, through analogous countenances (left leaning smirks), a young girl (circa 1930) and a CEO (circa 1984),
cross temporal and social boundaries to become unlikely comrades.
In addition to designing and building the bespoke projector herself, Fiona made custom lenses by sandwiching pairs of
glass lenses of various sizes, creating infinate focus, allowing the work to be installed in any sized space without having
to adjust the focus on the projector.

see essay Swell by Carol Sawyer, 1996 Grunt Gallery Monograph.

all rights reserved/copyright fiona bowie 1995-2023
All images, sound and text are the exclusive copyright of the artist and may not be used or duplicated without the expressed permission of the artist.
This work was created in K'emk'emeláy (colonially known as Vancouver BC.),
with gratitude and acknowledgement of our host's nationhood; of their unceded, ancestral and current territories:
the Musqueam, Squamish, and Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.