Michael Murphy (1979, Dartmouth, Canada) works in a variety of media. In a search for new methods to ‘read the city’, Murphy uses a visual vocabulary that addresses many different social and political issues. The work incorporates time as well as space – a fictional and experiential universe that only emerges bit by bit.
His work is often about contact with architecture and basic living elements. Energy (heat, light, water), space and landscape are examined in less obvious ways and sometimes developed in absurd ways. By merging several seemingly incompatible worlds into a new universe, he focuses on the idea of ‘public space’ and more specifically on spaces where anyone can do anything at any given moment: the non-private space, the non-privately owned space, space that is economically uninteresting.
He demonstrates how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century – and he challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. Informally, he seduces the viewer into a world of ongoing equilibrium and the interval that articulates the stream of daily events… moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama in order to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life.
By emphasising aesthetics, he investigates the dynamics of landscape, including the manipulation of its effects and the limits of spectacle based on our assumptions of what landscape means to us. Rather than presenting a perceived reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of our imagination.
His work bears strong political overtones. The possibility or the dream of the annulment of a (historically or socially) fixed identity is a constant focal point. By exploring the concept of landscape in a nostalgic way, his works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system. Establishing a link between a landscape’s reality and that imagined by its conceiver, these works focus on questions about our decadent Western existence. By demonstrating the omnipresent tapestry of the ‘corporate world’, he tries to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria, but are based only on subjective associations and formal parallels, which incite the viewer to make new personal associations.