The painting Island of the Dead depicts a melancholic group of rocks isolated from the viewer by the sea. The island appears remote and inaccessible, like death itself.
Collishaw built a 3 dimensional map of the island using a computer program that describes the contours and topography of the island. He introduced a light source to imitate the sun that moves 360° around the island, taking three minutes to represent a 24 hour period, and throwing it into light and shade as it does so. As the sun reaches the other side and the light fades, the picture recedes behind what is revealed to be a two-way mirror, and the viewer is faced only with their own reflection.
In this installation, a series of haunting images of Victorian child prostitutes are projected in rapid succession onto walls coated with phosphorescent paint. The ghost of these pictures is burnt onto the walls and gradually fades over time. Occasionally a projector will drag the image across the wall before leaving it burning bright at the end of a trail of light. This has a similar effect to the arc of a shooting star.
The lives of these girls sadly often resembled their presentation here; a light that burnt brightly and as suddenly extinguished in its prime, with just a ghostly image in a photograph to remind us of their ever having existed.
This work refers to the Francis Bacon and Velazquez portraits of Pope Innocent X.
The paintings perform as a conduit through which the Pope, the ambassador of God, appears. The presence of the Pope is impermanent in Collishaw’s film; he appears and disappears behind a constantly falling digital curtain.
This alludes to both the vertical curtain like trope in Bacons paintings and the digital rain effect made popular in the Matrix films which in turn refers to other states of being. In this projection, a perpetual digital rain through which the paintings of Velázquez and Bacon materialise and dissolve confronts the viewer.
The Pope exists in a digital twilight zone where he has discarded his physical state for an existence of interminable transience. Bacon seemed to take the Velazquez portrait and plug it into the electric grid. Now, in an age when everything is becoming rapidly digitalised, this work attempts to push this ethereal mirage into the nebulous world of micro computing and binary memory.
The image still exists but it has been pushed into another realm, past a Velázquez portrait of the spiritual surrogate, through a Bacon study of a reproduction of that painting, and into pixelated never-land, a return to it’s incorporeal being.