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David Theobald

Video artist and animator.

David Theobald (b. Worthing, UK) graduated with an MFA in Art practice from Goldsmiths in 2008. Technology and its impact on subjectivity lies at the heart of his practice. Consisting primarily of digital animation, his work and subject matter tends to mirror the structure of the underlying technology used in its creation and the repetitive processes that seem central to the infrastructure of contemporary society. Frequently, the intensive labour that goes into his animations is perversely used to produce images of objects and experiences that we normally go out of our way to avoid seeing and experiencing. 

Exhibitions include Plymouth Contemporary, at the KARST Gallery, the solo show PC World at Motorcade/Flashparade, Bristol, 971 Horses and 4 Zebras with a screening at the Tate Modern, Deepest Sympathy at Ikon, Birmingham and Animate Project's' Digitalis. David’s work was included on the recent DVD, New Contemporaries Moving Image 1968 - 2010, and as part of Move it: Parts and Labour a touring exhibition of artist animation. David recently co-curated the exhibitions Self-Service and  Altered States at St. John's Crypt, Waterloo. He was winner of the Addison Award at the 2018 Chaiya Art Awards, the 2015 Creekside Open (selected by Richard Deacon), the Motorcade/FlashParade National 2012, the Open West 2011 and the 2009 Creekside Open (selected by Mark Wallinger). Recently his work featured in the book “Experimental Animation: From Analogue to Digital” (Harris et al, Routledge, 2019).

Artist Statement:

Today, location is not so much defined by geography, but by our position within the complex web of processes that make up contemporary society. My work attempts to capture such a situation, caught in a perpetual state of transit where increasing complexity is often presented as the illusion of ‘progress’. As the global economy lurches towards an uncertain future, these complex connections that form the basis of day-to-day existence seem ever more evident and ever more precarious.

Working with digital animation inevitably raises questions about mediation in modern society.  Advances in imaging technology have the potential to stretch the limits of our senses and what we are capable of perceiving. However, much CGI and game technology instead appears directed towards anthropomorphism and a pre-canned form of wish fulfilment, the spectacular effects holding the spectator in thrall of the screen. In contrast, I’ve used animation to depict object and animal ontologies that are typically ignored by or unavailable to human beings. In many of my works we are witness to the normally unseen lives of objects, begging the question of what it means to be something. On top of this, of course, is the understanding that the completely illusory fabrication and artistic manipulation of these animated images renders these glimpses into unobservable worlds ironic impossibilities. Combined with the use of a restricted viewpoint, repetition and flat narrative, my work seems more likely to generate feelings of futility, frustration and perhaps humour which, in some cases, might give way to a deeper contemplation of the systems within which we live.  


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