Image: Wood & Harrison, Watering Cans, 2001, Courtesy the Artists and Carroll/Fletcher, London © The Artists
John Wood was born in Hong Kong in 1969 and Paul Harrison was born in Wolverhampton, England in 1966. They both studied at the Bath College of Higher Education and first collaborated in 1993.
Wood and Harrison create video works of minimalist performances, touching on themes of tragedy, comedy and irony. Their films are experiments in the physical limitations, scale and movement of the human body in relation to a surrounding environment that has been constructed by the artists. The three films 3D Bucket, Table and Chairs and Watering Cans (all 2001) are part of a larger installation entitled Twenty Six (Drawing and Falling Things), made up of 26 television screens showcasing a selection of looped video works, all of which are under three minutes long. As the title suggests, the works put mark making and gravity under scrutiny; the action is always shot from a fixed position, in a flat, square, un-moving field.
As in all their works, the artists are the only protagonists. In these short films, we see an indication of the artists' desire to explore not only small, absurd gestures in the most pared down possible environment, but also the deceptively complex mechanics of movement which are at once existential and comedic. In 66.86 (2003), though the artists are not visible, their presence is still discernible through the measured hauling of the rope through loops and pulleys. There is a tangible build-up of anticipation as the black marks move increasingly fast before slowly settling in the middle of the space in perfect formation.