London exhibitions. James Bridle at The Photographers Gallery

London exhibitions. James Bridle at The Photographers Gallery
Yareah Magazine

London exhibitions. James Bridle at The Photographers Gallery. The Media Wall presents Seamless Transitions. 5 Feb – 15 Apr 2015.

London exhibitions. James Bridle at The Photographers Gallery

James Bridle, stills from Seamless Transitions, production still, James Bridle, animation by Picture Plane, courtesy of Picture Plane

The Media Wall presents Seamless Transitions, a new commission by London based artist, writer and technologist James Bridle. His work engages with the invisible yet pervasive technologies that we encounter every day. Utilising a variety of platforms from software to social media, photography and installations, Bridle explores how technology both affects culture and reproduces and shapes political power.

Through this project, Bridle aims to shed light on the legal procedures and physical architecture of immigration and detention facilities, while provoking debates about nationality and citizenship at a point where these have become defining issues of our time.

In 2013 Bridle began collating witness accounts, planning applications and open source information as investigative means into the immigration and detention system. Working in collaboration with leading architectural visulalisation company Picture Plane, 3D tours of three key sites have been created: Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre at Heathrow; the Special Immigration Appeals Court in the City of London, whose design is informed by the need to present evidence in secret; and the Inflite Jet Centre at Stansted Airport, a private terminal used after hours by the Home Office to deport rejected migrants.

The project raises important questions about UK immigration and deportation practices and the lack of public awareness around both the geographic and legal positions of the institutions and processes involved. Bridle asks how the experiences of asylum seekers can be understood when sites of immigration, judgment, detention and deportation remain invisible to the public and shrouded in secrecy.

Seamless Transitions also considers the ethics of using new imaging practices as a form of journalistic investigation and social responsibility. It asks if, in sites that aren’t accessible to photography, other forms of image making can stand in as evidence to help raise government accountability.

James Bridle said: I first became interested in issues of citizenship when I discovered, through my work on drone killings, that it is not considered a birth right, but a privilege. You can be born in the UK, but if the government chooses, it can remove your rights as a British citizen. People without citizenship and the protections associated with it are made extremely vulnerable, not least because, as in Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase, Citizenship is the right to have rights. How we treat those with contested citizenships is one of the greatest tests of humanity, and how we choose to debate and discuss that treatment is one of the greatest tests of our democracy. The reality however, is that real debate becomes impossible when the process happens behind closed doors, in restricted areas, and in the middle of the night.

Animation and stills for Seamless Transitions were created by Picture Plane.

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