James Chantry is an East Midlands based multimedia artist. Working with video, projection, photography and structures, the artist explores themes such as metaphysics and realities by combining digital and organic mediums. His solo exhibition ‘YesNo Neither’ at WTS Gallery uses illusory installation and holographic video to examine new media representation of tragedy and death.


WTS Gallery’s Creative Journalist and Editor Mel Fletcher interviews James Chantry to ask more about his particular processes and his views on this digital era we are living in.

Words © Mel Fletcher

www.melfletcher.com - Mel Fletcher - James Chantry

MF: I was reading your statement on WTS Gallery’s website and it mentions a theme of tragedy and death. Could you tell me a little more about that?


JC: My work is about new media representation of tragedy and death and how it is reported. On devices we view terrible things that have happened, especially in this digital era where we use new media devices such as iPads. We can flick through stories that represent great tragedy and death, and when we are then led through these stories we are given choices about our opinions – my work is not a critique of this, i’m just interested in how people interact and how it has become a part of our everyday life.


We deal with these stories everyday, it’s always been a part of our lives as human beings but i’m interested in how today we have so much of this at our fingertips. There’s a glossy facade that we whizz through and there is a dark underbelly of what is really going on.


MF: Do you think there is a detachment using this technology in the everyday to the themes you are referring to?

© Nick Rawley

JC: Definitely, it can sometimes feel like fiction and I am interested in the reason why. The exhibition has it’s name ‘YesNo Neither’ because we are desensitised by going through these stories and images and at the end we are given an option of bright, flashing buttons to be able to express our opinions on the subject. I think it’s brilliant that people have the freedom to express their opinion in the media.


MF: The outcome of your digital prints are very manipulated, does your subject influence your methods and process?


JC: The process is deliberate in that typically photographs originally start as something physical and organic and then they get rendered and rendered into something digital. With my prints they start as 35mm photographs on film, then they get developed from something organic like coffee and orange juice – these components react with the silver. Then the image is fixed very quickly in salt, this only lasts for about 5 minutes so they are very quickly scanned and become a digital image. Also the water I use comes from the rivers and canals where the original photograph was taken.

www.melfletcher.com - Mel Fletcher - James Chantry

© Nick Rawley

www.melfletcher.com - Mel Fletcher - James Chantry

MF: What is the reasoning for using organic materials?


JC: It’s a process of rendering something digital and obscure from something that is matter and exists.


MF: You are displaying an installation of mobile phones in this exhibition…


JC: I’m encouraging people to tweet and send messages to the phones so that the audience has some kind of input to the artwork.


I have created holograms with the mobile phones because I wanted to create an illusion, so as people walk around the room, the hologram reveals itself and people become more interactive with the artwork.


MF: Does your day job at Charnwood Arts have a connection to your artwork?


JC: I’m a coordinator in arts and media for young people and refugees so it does in the respect that I run workshops and projects that are digital based.

© Nick Rawley

JC: I’m a coordinator in arts and media for young people and refugees so it does in the respect that I run workshops and projects that are digital based.


MF: Your work is very contemporary and digital and it seems in today’s world we are living amongst a digital era. What is your opinion on the theory that art will eventually become solely digital?


JC: Some people declare that certain traditional mediums are dead but I find that quite sad. I always think why can’t things live side by side? I use analogue methods like film, merged together with digital and I hope they can coexist. In this age there are so many possibilities with digital art.


MF: How does your artwork cope in WTS Gallery’s unconventional space?


JC: The space is very interesting because it is kind of industrial, but victorian and homely. The back room is fantastic because I think it used to be a tannery or abattoir? – so the space suits my work because they both fit around this theme of the darkened underbelly.


*James Chantry lives in Leicestershire, UK and studied Mixed Media Fine Art at University of Westminster, London. He now works at Charnwood Arts in Loughborough, UK and has exhibited work in London, Edinburgh, Yorkshire and China.



Article written by Mel Fletcher

Text © Mel Fletcher 2014

Article commissioned by WTS Gallery 2014
Images © WTS Gallery

Source: wtsgallery.weebly.com/oct