Graham Ellard and Stephen Johnstone have collaborated since 1993, when they made 'Passagen', commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and included in the group exhibition 'V-topia' at Tramway, Glasgow. Interested in the relationships between pre-cinematic spectacle and digital technology, cinematic spectacle and abstract film their work exists at the intersections of architecture and cinema and is preoccupied with the conventions and effects by which space is represented and 'produced' in the projected image.
In the installations 'Geneva Express' (1997), 'Wall of Death' (1999), 'Head Corridor' (2001) and 'Prisma' (2003) this has been extended into the ways in which that image is perceived or experienced by a mobile spectator within an immersive or constructed architectural environment - the work complicating the experience of viewing and recasting the audience as both spectator and performer.
In 1997 the CD-ROM 'Passagen', based on the installation of the same name was published by its commissioners Film and Video Umbrella, with Ellipsis.
In December 2001 'Holding Pattern', a large-scale permanent lightwork for a public site in East London, received a 'special mention' from Architectural Association of Ireland's and in 2004/05 was included in 'OPEN: new designs for public space' at The Van Alen Institute in New York, other artists and practices included were Diller+Scofidio, Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito and Acconci Studio. 'OPEN' has toured to The National Building Museum, Washington and the Chicago Architectural Foundation.
Since 2006 they have worked exclusively in 16mm film. Their films have been shown internationally, including; eme3 International Architecture Festival, Barcelona; Rotterdam International Film Festival; MAXXI, Rome; NIMK, Amsterdam; Triennale Design Museum, Milan; BFI London Film Festival, London; Anthology Film Archives, New York; Tate Britain, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Guggenheim New York.
Focusing on the relationship between film and architecture and exploring the fundamental role of light in articulating modernist architectural space their film and video work has examined the buildings of Erich Mendelsohn, Cesar Manrique, Basil Spence, Egon Eiermann, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Franco Albini.
Their abiding formal preoccupations - the camera’s ability to produce ambiguities of scale, depth or shallowness, transparency and reflection, and the intersections of architectural planes, vistas, apertures and screens - centre on the altered forms of attention, and the resulting intensity of looking, that comes from using the camera to magnify and study architectural details and fleeting atmospheric effects.
Their book, 'Anthony McCall: Notebooks and Conversations' based on conversations between the artists spanning ten years from 2004 to 2014, was published by Lund Humphries, London, in March 2015.
Graham Ellard is a Professor of Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Stephen Johnstone is a Professor of Fine Art at Goldsmiths University of London. They both live in London.