Art21 New York Close Up

NYCU | Erin Shirreff Takes Her Time


Our latest New York Close Up video is now live! Click to watch Erin Shirreff Takes Her Time on’s NYCU website.

How does an artist transform her source material? At her Greenpoint, Brooklyn studio, artist Erin Shirreff discusses the creation of her recent video projection, Lake (2012). Working from a photograph of Lake Okanagan (the area she grew up in British Columbia, Canada) she found in an early 1980’s era tourist magazine, Shirreff builds Lake from a single found image. Shirreff’s process is an unexpected mixture of digital and analog technique: in Photoshop, she creates a series of color variations of the original source picture but then re-photographs those variations—employing intentionally distorting lighting techniques—to create thousands of “secondary” images. Importing those secondary images into her editing software, Shirreff constructs a seamless video sequence, creating the effect of an uncannily shifting landscape in a slow but constant state of visual change.

Editing the video presents a subtle aesthetic challenge. Sherriff strives to find the right balance between the artifice of the naturalistic, weather-like effects (produced by the analog light and color interventions) and the illusion-breaking reality of the original photographic surface. In previous video works like Roden Crater (2009) and UN 2010 (2010), Shirreff reveals her on-going psychological fascination with singular forms situated in a deep landscape. The slow play of color and light over the Roden Crater and the UN building serve to throw the forms’ fundamental stillness and apartness into relief. At the Hauser & Wirth gallery space in Manhattan, Lake is projected on a freestanding wall, yet another transformation of the original source image, this time from two-dimensional photograph to now time-based sculptural object.

Erin Shirreff (b. 1975, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

CREDITS | “New York Close Up” Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough. Cinematography: Rafael Moreno Salazar & Nick Ravich. Sound: Scott Fernjack & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Amanda Long & Tida Tippapart. Design: Open. Artwork: Erin Shirreff. Thanks: British Columbia Magazine, Hauser & Wirth, Justin Martin, Janina McLaren, & Parks Canada. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.