Laura Marker, Elaine Brown & Bethe Bronson begin their collaboration through a drawing by Hieronymus Bosch, which includes the text ‘The Trees Have Ears and the Field Has Eyes’ and like much of his work it features an owl, this time central to the image, sitting on the branch of a tree. The trees are strange, they have ears, and the field they are set upon is riddled with eyes in the grass. Expressing perhaps the paranoia of the artist in this case – the text has been familiar to different societies through time, a metaphor for being listened to and observed by hidden powers, religious authorities, or political enemies. The walls also have ears it seems, telephones have been bugged, tiny cameras have watched, drones can find us, and technology can be hacked. Algorithms are now constantly collected from anyone and everyone. Can we ever be truly alone? Beyond the known we consider what else is lurking in the shadows, out of plain sight, on the edge of perception?
Influenced by historical scientific documentation and contemporary popular science fiction imagery, Laura Marker investigates scientific endeavour and the development of new technologies; past, present and future, in particular, lens based technologies; magnifying lenses, projections, cameras. Historically, lens based technologies hold a dual status associated with scientific truthful observation on the one hand, trickery, fraud and illusion on the other. Magnifying lenses, magic lanterns, photography and the surveillance camera are perceived to have “penetrative” vision. Singling out fragments of time usually too small for human perception to register (over seconds, minutes, hours). This uneasy relationship to new scientific discoveries and related technological advances is not consigned to any specific point in history. Instead, we carry a deeply embedded mixture of paranoia, awe, fear and aspiration applying these feelings to each new discovery in turn.