This January, the recipients of the Jerwood/Film and Video Umbrella Awards, Ed Atkins and Naheed Raza, premiere their ambitious new commissions at Jerwood Visual Arts
, Jerwood Space, London. Presented as the second part of the exhibition Tomorrow Never Knows, the new works will be on show from 16 January until 24 February 2013.
The exhibition is the culmination of the first two-year cycle of the Jerwood/Film and Video Umbrella Awards. This initiative occupies a distinctive place alongside other awards for contemporary moving-image artists. It supports young and emerging talents and focuses on practical, developmental support, in which the nurturing of ideas and expertise is consolidated by substantial production opportunities. Alongside this support of future talent, the project speculates on ideas and images of the future, and different perceptions of that future in the present and in the past.
Naheed Razas new commission continues her exploration of the phenomenon of cryonics. This technologically-assisted attempt to extend the span of human life still has its acolytes around the world but also seems strangely dated, like the product of Sixties science-fiction. Razas large-scale projection work, filmed at different institutes in the United States, delves deeper into our complex and often ambiguous relationship with death, contrasting individuals belief in scientific progress with the age-old fantasy of overcoming nature's ultimate limit.
If cryonics seeks to preserve the body indefinitely, contemporary computer imaging seeks to render it in ever more life-like ways. Although modern motion-capture techniques can seem either cold and clinical, or alien and uncanny, Ed Atkins work evokes that spark of vitality and individuality that is often to be found in visceral actions or inadvertent gestures. Where the subjects of Razas video are stored, in suspended animation, at sub-zero temperatures, Atkins sets his piece at the bottom of the ocean, as if implying both the murky, latent presence of the unconscious and the way it threatens to surface at any moment.
The Jerwood/Film and Video Umbrella Awards have, over the course of their two-year span, considered the work of a 50-strong shortlist of nominated artists, and developed and exhibited four pilot projects from which two have now been extended into substantial commissions. The commissions focus on past and present perceptions of the future. Selected from a quartet of artists (alongside Emma Hart and Corin Sworn) who first showed their pilot pieces at Jerwood Visual Arts in the spring of 2012, Atkins and Raza have been working closely with Film and Video Umbrella on these new commissions.