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Amy Dickson: Reeds 1-4
This text continues from a short essay Popular Users, featured in isthisis? #4, 2018which links to this page. 

In this series of videos Dickson explores a continuing interest in reeds. The videos are all shot using a handheld Sony Xperia Z5, and are continuous, unedited takes featuring the natural sounds of the area. The first and second of the series were originally shown together for a REDO event in 2016 as a two screen projection. While both are equally suitable as single screen works, this initial presentation is reflected in their similarities. Both recorded on the same day, the works study the complex forms produced by a dense patch of reeds and the plants hard lines blowing in the wind in the clear midday sun. The first short work focuses on a more stable camera, zooming in and out of the resulting shapes and patterns, collapsing and expanding their depth as the camera struggles to make sense of its reading. The second focuses on the mobility of the camera to walk within the reeds, while coming back to the interests of the first in a more playful manner. The third in the series, made almost a year later, shifts away from these initial visual interests, looking at the reed’s softer feathered bloom, silhouetted against the bright and direct sunlight. The work continues a similar structure of the handheld camera traversing the site, toying with depth and composition as Dickson’s improvised movements shift from focus to focus through a flow of zooming, turning, walking, holding and leaving. The final work, almost another year on, explores the subject in low light conditions, causing her camera to make impressionist readings, transforming the reed’s hard lines as the wind blows them into flurries of colour. This soothing image is met with a hard jaggering of zooms, breaking down the image further through a continuous interplay of soft and hard. 




Reeds I, Sony Xperia Z5, 05/04/16



Reeds II, Sony Xperia Z5, 05/04/16



Reeds III, Sony Xperia Z5, 24/01/17



Reeds IV, Sony Xperia Z5, 18/11/17

There is much more going on here than someone simply making videos of some reeds on their phone. This basic interplay expands upon a much wider dialogue of artist and apparatus in the digital age; one of human and machine collaboration, conscious and computational decision making, and the receding natural and developing digital world. Dickson’s videos take a raw look into human creativity through a stream of consciousness that is fundamentally human while being directly influenced by the functionality of our artificially intelligent machines, highlighting and merging the two into a collaborative dialogue that can been seen throughout Dickson’s video practice. Rather than the more conventional approach of didactic, speculative, and assertive artist opinion as a method of commenting on our current sociopolitical situation; Dickson is diving into it, using it, and exploring the consequences of our relationships with machines now, in an acknowledgment of their assistance and their limitations, while remaining human in her input. This is a dialogue that we must understand if we are to embark on a positive future aided by our collaboration with machines, one that is currently a major tool of capitalism, of personalised ads, newsfeed filters, credit checks, Cambridge Analytics, Uber, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Tesla, Tesco etc. Dickson is working with these same systems of advanced algorithmic decision making, only outside the consumer based incentives of spectacle, stimuli, entertainment and labour. She is using them for personal, explorative, creative and expressive means while in dialogue with the machine, a process made possible by the accessibility and usability of popular devices.