Evolution, Transformation and Innovation Documented Through Moving Image Creation
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
The direct Latin translation of the word Video is “ to see”… With Terry Flaxton’s moving image art, he hopes to open the eyes not only of his audience but of himself. A pioneer in the world of video, Terry Flaxton is a British artist who has been creating various forms of cinematic art since 1970. Today, Flaxton continues to push boundaries in the digital arts space through sound, video, print and installations.
Pioneering The Video Art Form
“Terry Flaxton has been an impassioned, indefatigable presence in British Independent Video for some time, during which he has assembled an impressive body of work encompassing powerful, polemical documentary and highly personal, poetic video art. What unites these separate strands is a strongly held belief in the medium’s ability to change our image of the world.”
Terry Flaxton has been a force to be reckoned with within the world of moving image arts for over four decades.
His journey began near Hoxton, a neighborhood in East London where his father was born, which Flaxton describes as now being “about the most hip place on the planet.” Today Hoxton, like most places adjacent to major urban areas, hosts indie art galleries, creative digital/moving image hubs and the usual trendy bars. However when Flaxton was growing up this area was a notoriously dangerous and rough area of London. It was during his days in the East End that Flaxton met a working-class artist who inspired Flaxton to seek out the endless possibilities of art and, importantly, to becoming an artist who would immediately remove class — the British repressive disease — from the equation.
“I encoded what art had to offer but realised that true art has to come from the self when it’s stripped bare of cultural influences and seeks to speak its own truth.“
— Terry Flaxton
One could say Flaxton’s official art introduction was in 1970 when Flaxton created his first analogue audio art piece (analogue audio being one of the earliest technologies of sound recording). The next year, 1971, Flaxton created his first analogue film artwork, and five years later Flaxton created his first video — marking his official transition away from film into the, at the time, revolutionary world of video. The move away from traditional analogue film was sparked when only one of thirty film rolls survived from a trip to California back to the UK in 1976. A heartbreaking discovery for any artist, this prompted Flaxton to dive into the newly emerging world of video and the innovative efficiencies that this new art form had to offer.
Terry Flaxton is an artistic pioneer in every sense of the term. In his 50+ years of creating, he’s been at the forefront of many emerging art forms and technologies. Many of his artistic endeavors have marked historical moments in video art. Some notable examples of Flaxton’s innovation in the moving arts space includes:
- Shooting the making of Ridley Scott’s 1984 Apple commercial (which launched the iconic Macintosh computer) which showed in the US for 6 months on news channels across the US.
- Shooting the world’s third ever electronically captured and 35mm released feature with Channel 4 and the BFI’s Out of Order in 1986
- Shooting the 1st Sony HD to 35mm for Du Art in New York in 1989. He also tested Panasonics VariCam Format for them in its development period in 2000.
Learning From The Past, Looking To The Future
“I’m an artist born in the analogue and hitching a lift on technology as it rushes towards the Quantum.”
— Terry Flaxton
Flaxton’s artistic career evolved with the times and the new sound and image technologies brought forth with each passing year. What started as a passion for analogue transformed into an exploration and love of digital which is now evolving into the quantum, technology-based art forms of the future.
While expression is at the center of Flaxton’s work, he has dedicated a number of years to educating future artists hoping to follow similar paths. While never halting his creations, Flaxton was a professor of Cinematography and Former Director of the Centre for Moving Image Research at University of the West of England (UWE). He is also one of 160 Royal Academicians of the Royal West of England Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturing.
To date, Flaxton has had over 200 exhibitions across the globe in cultural hubs such as Tokyo, Moscow, Florence, Dublin, Istanbul, and New York. One notable exhibition being In Other People’s Skins (after Da Vinci) at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York, which attracted 1.2 million visitors. Over the years, he’s photographed musical legends such as Grace Jones, Madonna, Van Morrisson, Sting, Kiri Te Kanawa and many more.
Flaxton’s artwork has received various awards, including the Montbeliard and Locarno film festival Prix Graphs and the Prix Nike in Amsterdam. Flaxton’s creations are currently on display in The Arnolfini in Bristol, The Museum of Modern Art in Berlin, The British Artists Film and Video Study Collection in London, Video Les Beaux Jours in Strasbourg, The Rewind Project in Dundee, The Lux Centre in London, The AICE in Milan, and The Harris Museum in Preston.
Open Your Eyes: Empowerment Through Understanding
“I learned art history at art school and how to go against art history. “
— Terry Flaxton
Terry Flaxton has never been one to submit to the dominant paradigm, especially when it comes to his art. Always looking to the future, Flaxton’s artwork throughout the years has reflected innovation and transformation in both the technology used to create it, and in its overall message.
The following quotes, paraphrased by Flaxton on his website, from artists Duchamp, Magritte, Warhol and Banksy relay the philosophy and approach Flaxton takes to his artwork, and the world in general:
Duchamp: “I reject patronage determining what is to be counted as art, so from now on I the artist will choose what art is and what it means”
Magritte: “I openly question the idea of representation especially in the delineation of the ‘real’” Ceci n’est pas une pipe.
Warhol: “Now we should look at what’s around us with a gaze that was previously reserved for ‘art’”
Banksy: “Let us intervene in the depiction of the ‘real’ by direct action in the marketplace which currently symbolises human exchange and human values”.
As dictated by fellow artists across the ages, Flaxton believes that each ordinary person and possession holds the potential for greatness. Whether that greatness is recognized often depends on empowerment — Flaxton has empowered himself through his artwork, and is now focused on empowering others — people, concepts and the video arts space as a whole — through a deeper understanding of the world around them.
Past Works and Notable Sales
Terry Flaxton has been at the forefront of digital art spaces since their inception. Much of his artwork is highly-contextual in regards to both its creation and exhibition. As Flaxton puts it, “ If you view a work like ‘Un Tempo Una Volta’, without imagining that it is shown 6 meters by 3 meters at an angle of 45 degrees, 10 feet above the audiences head whilst they lay beneath, staring up as Venetians do within their city, then you are missing the point — unless you imagine that staging.”
However, the rise of rare digital art has lead to the creation of multiple artworks that viewers can digest and enjoy from the comforts of their homes. Some of Flaxton’s notable works, and sales, within this space include:
In Re Ansel Adams
In Re Ansel Adams was created by Flaxton as an homage and digital reconstruction of Ansel Adam’s photography series of Yosemite National Park. In 2008, Flaxton travelled to Yosemite with an early Red digital camera which he used to recreate Adam’s historical photo in a “cinematographic moving-image form” (captured at 4k resolution). With this reproduction, Flaxton sought to capture the qualities unique to film photography (textures, flaws, and all) as a way of portraying a deeper communication of the majestic Yosemite landscape.
This artwork is valued at over $5000 (for non-ownership access rights) and 55/100 non-owned editions have sold thus far. The original artwork is valued at $100K.
In Re Ansel Adams is displayed in the permanent collections of the Harris Museum in Preston and the Royal West of England Academy of Art.
Re: Imagining New York
This artwork is part of Flaxton’s series Reimagining the already Imagined, in which he presents recognizable, often iconic, images in novel, contemporary forms, thus altering the way we interact with these familiar images. Re: Imagining New York is a cine-montage of well-known sites throughout New York City that consists of 100 high-definition images in its entirety.
This artwork is valued at over $5,000 (for non-ownership access rights only) and has sold 39/100 editions.
Carnival is a collision between old world traditions and contemporary rituals. It serves as a hypnotizing reminder that more similarities than differences exist between the two. Commonalities found within stories, symbols, and ceremonies travel across time and space often manifesting timeless messages in novel forms.
This artwork is valued at over $2,000 (for non-ownership access rights only) and has sold 15/30 editions.
New Release — Under Every Desert a Sea
This artwork is the first of a short series which identifies the elephant in the room — the anthropocene — human damage. It’s the time after the ice caps have melted, the torrent has fallen, the sun is expanding, the sea is evaporating and humanity has gone.
— Terry Flaxton
Flaxton’s newest creation, Under Every Desert a Sea is centered around the theme of geological time. The creation began its life with images from the Mojave desert which Flaxton severely abstracted to give the impression of rippling water.
Natural evolution, destruction and rebirth are evident themes in this creation. Yet Flaxton’s newest artwork also speaks to his journey as an artist — the constant evolution of expressionism and the vehicles in which he achieves this, as well as the interplay between realistic “captures” meant to portray the state of the world versus imaginative abstractions that require individual interpretation.
Under Every Desert a Sea represents a change in direction (which every artist must undertake continuously to refresh their practice) and over time we’ll see this change as each new work is created — eventually there’ll be a set of new pieces with these practices, disciplines and new techniques of abstracting the real to create new visions of the future.
Beyond its hypnotizing subject matter, this artwork release is special for a few reasons:
- Flaxton’s collaboration with MakersPlace marks his debut within the rare digital art market and the introduction of a new digital medium that is unlike anything Flaxton’s previously released — both in its process and in its consumption.
- Collectors have the chance to own the entirety of this piece in all its glory, as opposed to only access/usage rights (which has been common practice for Flaxton’s previous work).
- Last, but certainly not least, this creation will be the first ever 4K video artwork on MakersPlace — created to be displayed on any large-screen with stunning quality.
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