Luke Fowler @ Inverleith House, 12 Feb - 29 Apr
Artist Luke Fowler is best known for his documentary films about radical thinkers on the fringes of society. Made using largely found footage, his 2006 film Pilgrimage From Scattered Points looked at the work of English composer Cornelius Cardew who, with his orchestra, set out to change society through participatory creative expression.
More recently Fowler completed a trilogy about the similarly radical, Glasgow-born psychiatrist R.D. Laing – the third part of which will be on show at Inverleith House from this month. Laing established an alternative institution in his own home in the 1960s where he treated schizophrenics.
Both Cardew and Laing were symptomatic of their generation. They wanted to emancipate people from the restraints of society and free them of stifling institutions, such as the family, and like many of the New Left, Cardew and Laing failed to achieve what they had anticipated and both died in relative obscurity.
As well as making biopics about dead radicals, Fowler also creates work about obsolete media. On show at Inverleith House are 50 new photographs from his ongoing Two Frame photo series that sees him using a now defunct camera format to record his daily life. The resulting paired images frame the contemporary world in a nostalgic hue.
Fowler is obsessed with the past and its expired modes of representation. By reintroducing us to important figures of recent history – by depicting the world in grainy tones – Fowler reminds us that we are never wholly free of our past. Everything we see around us today – every person, every chair, and every appliance – has travelled a long and complex historical ramble, with all its tangential, radical figures and dead or dying media.