Pictura Gallery

Ted and Nune | Crawlspace

January 27, 2022

Ted and Nune Page 19

In Ted & Nune’s experimental project, Crawlspace, participants settle into a small enclosed space under the house. The artists bathe them in video projections with short clips of warm connection, like a sauna for the memory. The forms of the sitter begin to merge with the projected imagery, and when the person is deep inside the experience, that’s when the photographers record their image. In the resulting photographs, some people dissolve. Others leave trace facial expressions and body postures showing release, a state of calm relief that bleeds into an aquarium of color. Among so many heaps of projects on the theme of memory in the medium of photography, I’ve never seen one quite like this.

The experience of Crawlspace was constructed for a specific purpose in the height of pandemic lockdown, when many people lost physical access to their loved ones. But it also has me thinking about a larger cultural norm, when we turn to our screens for comfort and connection and trade our mental space for that feeling of immersion. In our longing for contact, we are often counterintuitively willing to trade our presence in the room for the reconstruction of presence in pixels. The trade off is familiar to anyone with an iphone, perhaps best visualized by Eric Pickersgill in his series, Removed.

There’s a big difference in Ted and Nune’s projections. Their cocoon has nothing to do with the nefarious sirens of advertising and commerce who typically invade our attention. The artists have wrapped their subjects in something good from real life. Crawlspace is like an imax version of your grandfather’s home slideshow, just when you are most missing your grandfather. The crawlspace portraits contrast with those in Pickersgill’s Removed in just about every way, bringing brilliant color back to the mental landscape.

That Ted and Nune have utilized phone videos to bring people something restorative, it makes me wonder… what if our daily experiences with technology were not shaped primarily by corporate interest, but instead by poets and artists? Crawlspace is striking for its purity of intent. The pictures paint memory as a vivid emotional state, in a way that is both recognizable to my experience and new to my eyes.

- Lisa Woodward

Crawlspace was on view at the exhibition lab at Foley Gallery
and you can see more of Ted and Nune’s work here.