Since early 2015, artists Emma Lehto and Jennifer Mawby have been engaged in dialogue through their respective studio practices questioning our current tension with digital and analog technology. During this ongoing conversation the artists are respectively developing a co-informed body of work, Double Negative, underpinned by a mutual interest in the figure, and exploring the implications of positive and negative space.
Lehto, who trained in both communication design and studio arts, is known for her text-based work and literally creates negative space through the cutting and discarding of figures and text from books, magazines, and other printed publications. Her recent projects pose some unexpected questions about the sanctity of identity, and the constraints of political correctness.
Mawby’s work is underpinned by narrative portraiture (a kind of text), and she uses the concept of positive and negative space as a metaphor for analog and digital in order to conceptually rationalize her transmedia practice. In this reading, tangible mediums such as painting and photography exist in positive space, and virtual, digital mediums such as video or web-based art exist in negative space. In the Double Negative works she further considers the relationship of the the figure (aka the body) in real life to the body in virtual or cyberspace.
With the sharing ideas, offcuts and remnants of studio work, Double Negative evolves as the artists respond to the ideas and work being developed. The use of appropriation and a debt to the “cut up” technique of Burroughs and Gysin are apparent in the outcome. The respective process and methods can also be considered through the lens of Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and newer provocative theories on Remix Culture.