Derek Besant: Body of Water

  • ©2004, Derek Besant



    Body of Water


Creation Year:



    Thermal ink on vinyl mesh unframed


    5 feet x 5 feet hung on pins


Artist Statement:

    If we humans are made up of 98 percent water, then what comprises the other two percent? A similar question could be asked in the current debate on the influence of the digital world on our definition and the identity of our non-virtual world. My subjects are immersed in particular aquatic environs and are given instructions to consider themselves more like a land mass within a body of water. I ask them to consider themselves not so much as who they are, but what they might be as shorelines, tides, shallows, depths, currents, undertows, and corrosions. I shoot several digital photos of each subject, then file that raw information away for a year. When I finally return to the file, I have enough distance to be more objective as I build the psychological portrait of the subject as water. My works become images that reflect personality traits of the subject; centered, disturbed, serene, clear, scattered, distorted etc. I remove anything that distracts from the water image Oewelry, birthmarks, unwanted surface disturbance) and reconstruct the image as a translation of digital information. I use industrial digital-output equipment from the billboard industry because advances in the kind of work I build are more available there than the fine arts. These images are thermal ink laminated on a vinylmesh screen, and, in certain light, they have surface properties similar to a solarized photo image. The scale allows viewers to wander into the dot matrix and digital field, and find their way out again.

Technical Information:

    I reworked the digital photo sources in Photoshop and desaturate the color to black and white. I digitally recorded the vocal patterns of Isabella Couperthwaite Kreizel reading every definition of “water” from my 1973 Funk & Wagnalls University Edition Dictionary. I also gathered digital water sources as audio tracks from my June 2003 artist’s residency at Palazzo Venier/Casa Artom Study + Research Centre in Venice. Collaborating with Paul Connolly (Fluor lnternational’s Computer Data Team Leader in South Africa); we’ve rebuilt both sound-source wavelengths into one soundtrack using PEAK and PROTOOLS.

All Works by the Artist(s) in This Archive: