Erin Shirreff Takes Her Time

How does an artist transform her source material? At her Greenpoint, Brooklyn studio, artist Erin Shirreff discusses the creation of her recent video work, Lake (2012). Working from a photograph of Lake Okanagan (the area she grew up in British Columbia, Canada) that she found in an early 1980's tourist magazine, Shirreff builds Lake from a single found image. Shirreff's process is an unexpected mixture of digital and analog technique: in Photoshop, she creates a series of color variations based on the original source picture but then re-photographs those variations—using intentionally distorting lighting techniques—to create thousands of "secondary" images. Bringing those secondary images into her editing software, Shirreff constructs a seamless video sequence, creating the effect of an uncannily shifting landscape in a slow but constant state of visual change. Editing the video presents a subtle aesthetic challenge. Shirreff strives to find the right balance between the artifice of naturalistic, weather-like effects and the illusion-breaking reality of the original photographic surfaces. In previous video works like Roden Crater (2009) and UN 2010 (2010), Shirreff reveals her on-going psychological fascination with singular forms situated in a deep landscape. The slow play of light and color over images of the Roden Crater and UN building serve to throw those forms' fundamental stillness and apartness into relief. At the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Manhattan, Lake is projected on a freestanding wall, yet another transformation of the original source image, from two-dimensional photograph to time-based sculptural object.

Erin Shirreff (b. 1975, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

CREDITS | "New York Close Up" Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough. Cinematography: Rafael Moreno Salazar & Nick Ravich. Sound: Scott Fernjack & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Amanda Long & Tida Tippapart. Design: Open. Artwork: Erin Shirreff. Thanks: British Columbia Magazine, Hauser & Wirth, Justin Martin, Janina McLaren, & Parks Canada. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.