This concluding feature on Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art presents Lorna Macintyre – ‘Midnight Scenes & Other Works’, a solo exhibition of recent works by Glasgow-based artist Lorna Macintyre at Mary Mary, Glasgow that runs till 2 June 2012.
The exhibition’s title is drawn from the 1858 publication, ‘Midnight scenes and social photographs: sketches of life in the streets, wynds, and dens of the city [of Glasgow]’ by Alexander Brown, a letterpress printer in Glasgow, containing what he termed as “facts and observations” of the conditions of the poor, with photographs of the streets of Glasgow taken by moonlight. The imagery of midnight scenes bathed in the glow of moonlight suggest a particular point of time that demarcates the nebulous zones of night and day, dark and light, where concrete reality becomes enmeshed within and transformed by myth – themes that emerge in the exhibition.
The idea of moonlight emerging amidst darkness to reveal a situation from a different perspective parallels the way that the gradual exposure to light is used as an artistic process for Macintyre’s works. Dark blue crystals encrust the steel tubes of Midnight Scenes, a sculptural work whose tactility is a result of a process where light is used to alter the composition and appearance of materials. Macintyre uses cyanotype, a photographic technique requiring a photosensitive solution and exposure to sunlight. A monitor placed amongst Macintyre’s cyanotype collages and photographs displays a digital animation. At intervals, the blue appearing on its screen alters to another shade. Whilst pointing to the range of blue tones within the gallery space, its inclusion makes visible the contrasting production techniques, from a highly controlled digital format to one that reveals the effects of chance, light and time on materials, to create silhouettes of different intensities.
Motifs, materials and images used in the works take reference from the building the gallery is housed in, as well as those in the area, almost as vestiges of the real, the factual. In the adjoining gallery space, two installations are placed as if to partition rooms, in allusion to the building’s original function as a hotel. Titled Apollo and Artemis, the god of sunlight and the goddess of moonlight respectively in Grecian mythology, the interventions open up notions of time beyond the passage of day and night, light and darkness; to imaginaries where myths and mysteries reflect, illuminate and recreate concrete reality.