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Jess MacNeil

Author 
Andrew Frost

Jess MacNeil explores the way we perceive and interpret the external world. Spaces such as town squares, the steps of public buildings or a river serve as the subjects for an exploration of the transitory nature of human presence. Breaking down our experiences of these places into fragmentary memories that rely as much on personal interpretation as they do on a collective understanding, MacNeil’s videos are a different take on the nature of memory and its representation. 

Opera House Steps March and Opera House Steps December [both 2006] recorded the passage of tourists and pedestrians on the steps leading to the main entrance of the Sydney Opera House. Using video post production techniques to remove the people and leave only their shadows and the concrete steps upon which they fell, MacNeil created a stunning formalist composition that suggested a timeless observation of inhuman phenomenon. The Shape of Between [2006] was shot on location on the Ganges River at Varanasi in India. Screened as a video loop, the 100 seconds of footage is stretched to 13 minutes, subtly tweaked and altered so that the viewer’s attention is drawn to different boats as they drift into new configurations. What at first appears straight forward becomes more complex as it is increasingly difficult to tell what editorial intervention – if any – was made.

The two-screen works Wake (Windermere) and Wake (Coniston Water) [both 2007] are close-ups of the wake left by a boat. Both videos play on the natural urge to interpret abstract forms while acknowledging the pleasure of simply looking at water and sunlight as intense fields of visual experience. The Thaw [2007] is a single looped shot of ice and melt water in a street in Paris. The video subtly and evocatively captures the impressionistic reflections of a building and the disruption of the image by a passing vehicle.

Jess MacNeil is represented by Gallery Barry Keldoulis.

Date 
b. 1977
Birth place
Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada
Period of activity 
from 2002

Lives and works

London
England
Related organisations
Selected works
Selected events
Opera House Steps December, Jess MacNeil, 2006, – from Opera House Steps: December, via Vimeo 
Wake: Coniston water, Jess MacNeil, 2007, – from Wake: Coniston water, via Vimeo 
The Thaw, Jess MacNeil, 2007, – from The Thaw, via Vimeo 
The Swimmers, – from The Swimmers, via Vimeo 
Revolution , – from Revolution, via Vimeo 
Wake: Windermere, – from Wake: Windermere, via Vimeo 
Parallax Float (Southwark), – from Parallax Float (Southwark), via Vimeo 
Parallax Drift (Lambeth), – from Parallax Drift (Lambeth), via Vimeo 
Jess McNeil, To Be Somewhere Else, 2012
Jess McNeil, To Be Somewhere Else, 2012 – from To Be Somewhere Else 
Jess MacNeil, Windermere Calm, Soft Glow after the Mesmerist, 2010, photo: Paul Green
Jess MacNeil, Windermere Calm, Soft Glow after the Mesmerist, 2010, photo: Paul Green – from Windermere Calm, Soft Glow after the Mesmerist 
Jess MacNeil, Lake Land Lapse, 2010, photo: Paul Green
Jess MacNeil, Lake Land Lapse, 2010, photo: Paul Green – from Lake Land Lapse 
Jess MacNeil, Trafalgar Fountain Topology, 2010, photo: Paul Green
Jess MacNeil, Trafalgar Fountain Topology, 2010, photo: Paul Green – from Trafalgar Fountain Topology