​While Marshall’s work makes obvious references to popular culture, particularly horror and sci-fi he scales back these tropes to create minimalist works.

Image: James L. MARSHALL, Mendota Block (installation view), 2013, BUS Projects Melbourne, image courtesy of BUS Projects.

James L. Marshall

James L Marshall is a multi-disciplinary artist working across a range of media but predominantly in fabricated sculptures and digitally created images. Marshall investigates the impact of film on technology by referencing symbols of popular culture. He is particularly interested in sci-fi and cyberpunk where the line between reality and imagined worlds is often blurred. Marshall explains, “The lines between art and life – the virtual and the real – have been blurred for a long time now. I’m interested in making immersive work that encourages the viewer to experience rather than just view.”

Marshall’s installation, Mendota Block (2013) explores his interest in the West Coast Light and Space artists of the 60s and 70s, directly referencing James Turrell’s series the Mendota Stoppages. Turrell experimented with space and light by creating a number of installation works in the rooms of the disused Mendota Hotel in Santa Monica. Marshall was initially drawn to Turrell’s work as a result of living in Adelaide and spending time in Los Angeles and recognising that both cities aren’t dwarfed by large downtown skyscapes so the view of the sky isn’t interrupted by buildings. Marshall’s installation explores how light changes the viewer’s perception of space.

Marshall’s most recent exhibition, The Swallow’s Tail (2014) at Blindside in Melbourne was influenced by the 1998 cult-classic cyberpunk anime series Serial Experiments Lain. The series follows Lain Iwakura, an adolescent girl living in suburban Japan, and her use of Wired (similar to the internet). The series in some ways was ahead of its time and seems more relevant today to the post-internet generation – where the internet is an extension of reality rather than an alternate reality.

In a lot of his work Marshall detaches his physical self from the process of actually producing the artwork. He creates prints on his computer which he says, “are gestures but gestures I have made clicking a mouse rather than a paint brush” and then puts these through a series of processes to create an image. Marshall plans to take this a step further by creating a series using a coder to create an algorithm that will randomly generate digital abstractions. This will take Marshall even further away from the process.

While Marshall’s work makes obvious references to popular culture, particularly horror and sci-fi he scales back these tropes to create minimalist works. Of his work he says, “At a core level my practice is an examination of contemporary human experience. Whether funnelled through the conventions of genre cinema, abstraction or parapsychology I’m interested in creating work that connects signs.”

Text by Jane Llewellyn, an arts writer based in Adelaide.

2015  Graduate student, Art Centre College of Design, California
2014  Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship
2011  Master of Visual Arts by Research, South Australian School of Art
2008  Bachelor of Visual Arts (First Class Honours), South Australian School of Art

Artist's website: www.jameslmarshall.com/


Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia, acknowledges the Kaurna people as traditional custodians of the land upon which the Museum stands.