One Body Politic: Metamorphosis of Place Reflected in Face

Haywood, Mark (2007) One Body Politic: Metamorphosis of Place Reflected in Face. In: 2nd Annual Transdisciplinary Literary & Cultural Studies Conference, May 24th to 26th 2007, Fatih University, Istanbul. Full text not available from this repository.

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One Body Politic arose from a Heritage Lottery commission and artist’s residency at Middlesbrough Town Hall to mark the 150th anniversary of a Royal Charter of Incorporation to the English industrial community, Middlesbrough (pop. 150,000). Most towns and cities received Charters several hundred years earlier, whereas Middlesbrough was a product of the Industrial Revolution. In the early nineteenth century it had been a hamlet of twenty-six houses, yet by 1850 had a population of over 50,000 and was the fasted growing place in Europe. Founded on a geo-historical coinciding of coal, iron ore and the world’s first commercial railway, it has since experienced a series of technology driven boom and bust metamorphoses, with successive industries of steel, engineering and chemicals have each mushrooming and then becoming redundant. The Charter conferred a mayor and council, stating ‘that the Inhabitants of the said Town of Middlesbrough and their successors shall be forever one body politic’. One Body Politic portrays the changing history and successive metamorphoses of Middlesbrough through the faces of its inhabitants. Many of the portraits in One Body Politic were created from faces of crowds at local public events, people who were simultaneously witnesses to, and participants in, the unfolding of Middlesbrough’s history. But many other faces in One Body Politic were constructed from photographs of people engaged in very mundane activities. Of course over a century and a half these activities have changed and they too reflect ongoing social metamorphosis. Each portrait in One Body Politic was formed by digitally overlaying images of two different faces, both of 50% density. Many of these images simulate the appearance of photographs and generate indexical veracity, that we (still) attach to photographic representations, but the faces on these plates are actually fictions, albeit ones composed from two sets of half truths. In addition to the layers of individual faces, re-recording and merging historic images also draws attention to the stratification and shifting meanings of history. For instance the 1989 plate merges images of two press photographers who had been inadvertently photographed by a third; all three were recording the demolition of a local power station and the passing of another phase of industrial history. A resonant layering of process, time and history occurs when two photographers recording the passing of an era are later morphed into a new image by the artist to become a small component in a much larger artwork (that is itself yet another socio-historical document).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Journal / Publication Title: 2nd Annual Transdisciplinary Literary & Cultural Studies Conference
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA)
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2010 11:26
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 20:00
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