Guest writer, Rachel Elderkin, visits the rather fabulous White Cloth Galley in Leeds for an exhibition by photographer Chris Floyd . . . (and thanks to”Old Bluebeard” for the pic!)
White Cloth Gallery: 140 Characters
“So here they are. My new friends. 140 characters. No more and no less.”
This is how Chris Floyd describes his exhibition on show at the White Cloth Gallery, Leeds. Realising that he spoke to his Twitter ‘friends’ on a more regular basis than his closest friends and family, he decided to begin photographing some of his followers, to put a face to the name. It may be rare that someone decides to physically meet the people they only communicate with online, but in doing so Chris Floyd manages to reveal the person, as well as the face, behind the name.
Walking through the gallery we are greeted by walls lined with groups of seemingly uniform photos; each portrait occupies a white backdrop, each displays a similar tone and lighting. Yet on closer inspection the individuality of these portraits shines through. Each photograph has a highly naturalistic feel, capturing a moment, a moment that is sometimes serious but more often than not fun and spontaneous. There is a strong sense of personality; the face behind the name becomes a person, a visual image of the self that a ‘Tweet’ just cannot offer. It is somewhat ironic that these were unknown ‘friends’, but it is refreshing that through this project those hollow, online profiles are provided with a personality. In some photos a couple, or a group of people, occupy the white space. Floyd wanted to use this space to bring together people who had not met each other, an idea which adds a variance to the uniformity of this collection, which creates a real life interaction between those twitter ‘ghosts’.
Alongside these 140 characters at White Cloth is a burst of colour in the shape of some of Floyd’s celebrity portraits; the well-known, recognisable faces displayed alongside the unknown. Yet they are connected to the unknown names in that all these portraits capture a strong sense of that individual’s character, and of course, celebrities are not adverse to Twitter. This exhibition brings together two integral aspects of today’s culture, ‘celebrity’ and ‘social networking’, and gives these ideals an integrity and life through Floyd’s insightful portraits.
It is great that this exhibition is making use of the way we connect in the modern day to create work and art that breaks through the impersonal aspect of these online ‘friends’. Displaying a mix of people from all walks of life this is not just a collection of 140 portrait photos but, as the exhibition is described, a collection of 140 characters.