Runa Islam

This work is so beautifully made, and the way it visually investigates perception in a really delicate way is so inspiring for me right now. Colours are used to explore distortion and uncertainty, and the palate is clean and paired-back. Nothing is unnecessary, everything has meaning and pace. This simple and beautiful approach is something that I want to explore through print rather than moving image, but as this work so elegantly shows, the lines between still and moving image are now more thoroughly blurred than ever. I think that a simple palate and relying on the line and colour to communicate meaning is something that I can learn a lot from, because I think in some of my prints in the past I have tended to involve the background too much, which detracts attention from the body of the work. 

Runa Islam’s work challenges and explores the structures, materiality and histories of representation and visuality, often in relation to cinematographic and architectural concerns. Adopting diverse methods and approaches in the presentation of her work, she disrupts, alters and enhances visual and architectural space, shifting perception and drawing attention to the act of seeing.

In her recent practice, the artist uses an increasingly pared-back filmic language to delve ever more deeply into questions of visuality, perception and the role of lens-based technologies in mediating how we see and understand the world. Sequences of almost abstracted images suggest the material aspects of film, the shimmer of celluloid or the grains of silver halide crystals. Her visual syntax is often so restricted that the image is all but denied. What comes to the fore is the act of looking itself. In Magical Consciousness (2010), for example, the back of a Japanese folding screen serves as an allegory for ‘the silver screen’, while This Much is Uncertain (2009-2010) relates the grain of film stock to the glittering volcanic sand found on the Italian island of Stromboli. Islam’s recent work, Emergence (2011), is a 35 mm film of a photographic print being processed in a dark room. Stripped back to a stark monochrome palette of black and red, it considers the contradictory yet closely linked relationship between the still and the moving image.


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