Tate Shots: Harrison and Wood

Paul Harrison and John Wood are Bristol-based artists who are known for their quirky videos depicting their somewhat comical antics and exploring the use of object and shape through the means of film. They’ve done many a “crazy” thing- for example they saw “what would happen” if two people stood on a semi-circle. “Are they just “big kids”?” is something that had passed my mind as I read up about the pair. It’s hilarious, food for thought and extremely interesting to watch.

In this episode of TateShots we’re treated to some of the comical works of Harrison and Wood, most of which are filmed in their Bristol studio/workshop (over about 10 years). We’re told each idea begins as a sketch- or a series of sketches- before becoming what we originally see. There’s a sort of “mediation” stage.

Perhaps the most poignant of their pieces shown is the video, filmed in a makeshift studio in the back of a moving van, of Harrison and Wood rolling about in the rush hour traffic on office chairs with dead serious facial expressions. Despite the odd injury it’s an amazing idea which I’m surprised no one has ever attempted before.

I like their work, I think it’s interesting, unique and exciting. I love the use of a plain white background contrasting, usually, with a singular (often coloured) object. The pair are often wearing all black which juxtaposes the white background so they, and their silly act, stands out. I can see it working conceptually (as it’s strange, whacky and, most definitely, wonderful), but I can’t quite imagine it as an art form. It appears, to me, as two grown men having a lot of fun in a studio- but it works for them and it’s interesting to watch and observe. It’s as though they’re conducting all of the experiments of out wildest dreams and that which we couldn’t even fathom ourselves.

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