Artist Statement – Paul Litherland
Paul Litherland is a visual artist/performer living in Montréal. Primarily a photographer and producer of multimedia performances, Litherland works with themes of vulnerability, masculinity and ideas pertaining to how communications take place. His relationship to technology, one of simultaneous attraction and rejection is a constant underlying theme in all of his photo-based work.
In life, as in his art, Litherland is compelled to create situations of physical and psychological danger. Finding ways to go through fear without panicking is a game of self-control that he enjoys on an almost daily basis. This desire to live an intense experience, as seen through his participation in the extreme sports of skydiving, motorcycling, BASE jumping and boxing is translated directly into his art practice. Litherland pinpoints these difficult, complex and sometimes cumbersome situations as mediums for direct and honest communications.
His most recent works include multimedia productions and photographic projects such as: Art Photography, a photographic project inspired by the information that accompanies an artwork when it is photographed badly. It was developed while in residence in Mexico City. Most recently, the projects BOX, and ASCII Fighter, are boxing performances created for Le Rencontre Internationale d’art Performance, in Québec City, 2006, and Digifest, held in May 2004 at the Design Exchange in Toronto. There are two percussion performances, Three-bit Thumbnail, for Networkings, Halifax 2003 and BABBLE, Moismulti (Québec City), Tranztech, (Toronto) 2002 and Galerie B312, (Montréal) 2001. In all of the performances, sensors are wired to a computer interface allowing the performers to write messages using text and video. In the performance/installation Security/Insecurité, security guards are hired to sleep on the floor, while an image of a mutilated but thriving tree is projected overhead. In this work, authority figures reveal a normal human vulnerability, creating an interesting dialogue between their position in society and their position in the room. Another work, Hesitation, was an installation of photographs in the form of traffic signs installed on lampposts along Boulevard St. Laurent - the main east - west dividing street of Montreal. The photographs portrayed people engaged in difficult and awkward communications.
The pushing of a button, activating the click of technology, delivers a short lived rush of the power of being in control, but for Litherland this rush is bittersweet, since the exercising of this power highlights the gap between the owners of technology and those who are subjected to it. Is using technology an ultimately isolating act, does its promise of easier communication come at the cost of removing the meaning from our messages? His art is an ongoing project about looking for ways to communicate honestly, while submerged in the complex demands of technology and socialized human relations. Litherland explores the challenges of creating and understanding ourselves through the acts of listening and being heard.
More details of Litherland's work can be found at www.paullitherland.com, a web site produced and maintained by the artist.