Broken                                             Flame                                  After the Hat                                Action No.7

colour digital prints 300x400mm (2000)

Time Based
In Search of Pure Form
Surface In Time And Space
In Search Of Purity Of Form

work was the fashionable art-educational term of the late 1960s and the 1970s for anything that could not be described as painting, sculpture or printmaking - usually film/video, performance art, and sometimes photography. The facts that modern sculpture from Auguste Rodin onwards could be characterized by an obsession with time, and that painting in the work of Anselm Kiefer or Gerhard Richter, for example, has time as its theme, are conveniently ignored. 

It was in the areas of performance and video that Marty St James began to work at art school. Video was sometimes used in performance, almost like a prop, interrupting the narrative, and by juxtaposition or metonymy, setting up its own anti-narratives. But these performances were always bounded by the unpredictable interaction of the audience, which grounded both performance and video in reality and contemporaneity. Increasingly ts, including one of the swimmer, Duncan Goodhew, for the National Portrait Gallery, London. Although the video is an obvious source for the portrait, as the home movie / home video / digital camera increasingly documents our families, Marty St James video-portraits subverted the media, iconography and conventions of the traditional portrait in an almost shocking manner. The Boy/Girl morphed video diptych, representing the year 2000, in the National Portrait Gallery survey of 20th Century portraiture further destabilizes the genre by introducing time and change into the format, whilst still referencing the everyday (normally eschewed, at least in terms of choice of subject matter, by the portrait): the boy and girl are Caspar and Poppy, Marty St James's children, but they stand for the children of all home videos. 

In 1995 he began experimenting with digital questions the notions of reality or at least documentation - and simultaneity: the digital photographic prints of Jeff Wall conflate the before and after, creating a landscape where effects precede the cause. Marty St James's procedure starts with a model or subject, who is filmed with video or digital camera: the results are processed on a computer with the artist manipulating the images, super-imposing and sub-imposing them: the resultant image is outputted to a printer from where the image is transferred to canvas or paper. 

This, amongst other indications, suggests that Marty St James still connects with the world of painting and drawing; and indeed he admires the the surface(s), cropping, and a muted palette. Last year, Marty St James traveled the world: included in the itinerary were visits to both North American Indian painters (the Navajo) and Australian Aboriginal artists. Their pictorial depictions of historical and physical time were influential on the artist in his exploration of time and freed up the otherwise inevitable time-bound definition of time itself. 

The work, too, fits into the modernist project, which has survived the fashion of post-modernism: there is reflexivity, a refusal of linear narrative with its beginning, middle and end, and instead it proposes an in medias res; an interchangeability of part and whole; an economy or minimalism - of means and materials. Time too is the pre-eminent subject of modernism: there is Prousts In Search of Lost Time, where nos Alexandria Quartet) but where also in the very consciousness of knowledge, knowledge is made to seem uncertain, unreliable; there are the also the relativist explorations of (in film) Kurosawas Rashomon or (in literature) Raymond Queneaus Exercises in Style; or, the time and narrative dislocations of the nouveau-roman novelist, Alain Robbe-Grillet, in , for example, his detective novel, The Erasers. 

Marty St James Action series continue this project in the visual arts. There is a peculiar flat death (to use Barthess term) aspect to these works time simultaneously speeded up, slowed down, stopped like, if one could imagine, a one-page flip-book. These works are at the same time intimate and remote. And, above (and below) all, there is an unnerving, uncanny silence. 

Stephen Bury

Head of Modern English Collections, The British Library

Video Projections

boy/girl diptych (2000)                           Familyway (2000)

In Search of Pure Form

The Moving versus the Static

The Moving versus The Static Portrait is a direct extension of my research into video portraiture over the last 7 years entitled Video Portraits.

(1) The Video Portraits made use of either single or multiple television monitors and presented the subject or sitter, in his or her characteristic environment, performing, dancing, talking and generally doing whatever it is that they do in real life.  The majority of the single monitor Video Portraits are small in size and set within proportionately outsize and elaborately decorated frames. Walking around an exhibition with the portraits hanging in one room, the visitor is surprised by the animated atmosphere. The subjects speak, introduce themselves, gesticulate, attempt to attract the our gaze and to all intents and purposes compete with each other for the visitors attention.
Jasia Reichardt Tokyo, 1998.

The Moving versus The Static Popeople were gathered. Sitting on a hillside watching them was an incredible enough sight, but the sound that emanated from the mass was equally intriguing and somewhat disturbing. The availability of video to bridge both sound and image is the perfect medium to explore such concepts.

Surface In Time And Space

The outside part uppermost or outside layer of something- in this case a work of art . The texture, form, quality or extent of that work of art. The Earth's surface for example.

In the early 1990's I produced large in scale video installation works amongst them The Swimmer (National Portrait Gallery Collection) an 11 channel work and The Dancer.... (Private Collection) a 14 channel work.  The surface quality of a large scale video installation is quite close but at the same time quite different to 2oth century invented surface quality of the glossy photographic image. Here glass with its window effect locates itself not as in a window which one peers into but as a type of light box where the rays are being emitted and thrown towards you as the viewer. With the coated glass acting as a transient screen or a wall of magic lantern proportions.

The point at which the form establishes itself as given in a screen based video work of art is always somewhat visually deceptive. As with watching tv one is never quite aware at what level of the surface the eye is focused onto. As watching fish swim in a river on a sunny day, one has to try to believe ones' eyes.
Watching the wax of a candle change its surface quality before your very eyes as it burn.  It is this tension that exists in time based or photographic work between the viewed and the viewer that is both intriguing and often immeasurable. In Gilbert and George's works the large scale photographs are hand tinted and the tension across the shiny surface broken by geometrical cuts that force the viewer hardly sees accept to compare with the windows of a cathedral.

Tony Ourslers (2) video projection works defy the viewer's logic in suggesting that a rag doll has distorted human features that can speak and animate yet at the same time this quality at the point where the rag and the light make contact infuse each to allow a suspended operation to take place. A belief takes over within which as viewer we accept the impossible and re-determine it as the probable. Accepting this technical surface inter-play as necessary and yet magical at the same time.

Rembrandts work depended in the making in low light levels thus through the use darkness enabling specific images to appear more extraordinary than they really were. Video emits light. The Swimmer both fragmented the image and surface in constant time and space but also changed the light and time as slips across the surface and time before the viewers' eyes. The surface of video, be it monitor based or projection based for me is the form that demands and holds the tension of the art work. It is the vessel, the modern day eclectic / electric pot. Boy / Girl at the Painting the Century 2000/2001 collates 10 years of a two children's lives and makes it appear on a specially prepared wall in the NPG. The digital age allows me to converge many of the elements and investigations of my previous artworks through film, installation, performance art and vision of it both in a digital form.

(3) Marty St James still connects with the world of painting and drawing; and indeed he admires the painters, Arnulf Rainer and Yves Klein. There is a painterly feel to the prints, almost a stumbling of the surface(s), cropping, and a muted palette. Last year, Marty St James traveled the world: included in the itinerary were visits to both North American Indian painters (the Navajo) and Australian Aboriginal artists. Their pictorial depiction's of historical and physical time were influential on the artist in his exploration of time and freed up the otherwise inevitable time-bound definition of time itself. Stephen Bury Head of Modern English Collections, The British Library 

In Search Of Purity Of Form

Critics have depriveat the commodity value can take its place.
I believe in the cause that time-based work and digital technology can further the cause of the mental process, the actual; moments of thought and process. Art at its best remains time-based, of the moment, of the time, in the present. We are gripped in the world by past and future only the good artist knows his/her present, understands time and is not gripped by history or the future but instead steps into the river of time, aware of its shortcomings and trepidation's.
In time based art works areas of operation suggest an air like quality evaporating in to the atmosphere. Such is life, a fleeting shortening experience. Digital options offer the fine artist the opportunities to that abstract quality of converging and manipulating elements in a very non - physical way with the possibility of re-entering the physical world through prints making or other means at any point. The virtual versus the physical experience. More than ever this is ting between the head/ hand and outside material world.

My video portraits engineered a situation where the physical frame and the moving image clashed and located and third point of reference. The Moving versus the Static, energy in two forms. 

1 Electronically Yours , Metropolitan Museum of Photography Japan 1998
Japan. Published by the Museum.
2 Marty St.James and Tony Oursler exhibited together in Electronically Yours , Metropolitan Museum of Photography Japan 1998
3 Betweeness, (referring to the digital prints of St. James. Catalogues Notes 2001. Published by Colville Place Gallery, London.

@copyright M St.J 2001


Marty St. James
39 and a half Tollington Park
London N4 3QP

020 7263 3522


1954 Warwickshire, England.


1973-76 Cardiff College of Arts (University of Wales)
B.A (Hons) Fine Art
under art educationalist Tom Hudson.
1972-73 Salford College of Technology , Foundation Studies
1970-72 Bournville School of Art and Design 


2001 - Subject Leader, Postgraduate Digital Arts, Camberwell College of Arts, London.

1991 - 01 .6 (fractional) Senior Lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts, The London Institute. 
in Moving Image.
1976 - Self employed fine artist working primarily in video, digital and inter-active media.


2001 Artists Prints, Inside Space, London (group exhibition)
Betweeness, Wiesbaden, Germany (solo)
. New . Scores, Gallery@ Oxo, London (solo exhibition)
. Artists Prints, National Theatre Gallery, London (group exhibition)
. Betweeness, Colville Place Gallery, London (solo exhibition)

2000 Painting The Century 101 Portrait Masterpieces
The National Portrait Gallery, London. 
Boy / Girl a video diptych 
(25th Oct - 4th Feb 2001) with Picasso, Freud, Bacon, Munch, Warhol etc

. Self Portraits Flowers East Gallery, East London
. Picture Yourself Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh. An inter-active digital video / print installation sponsored by Sony Broadcast UK and Macmillan Electronics UK December 1999 - January 2001 (solo exhibition)
. Falmouth Arts Centre - electronic prints
. Artcinema OFF-OFF, Copenhagen, Denmark
. Centre d'Art, Santa Monica, Barcelona, Spain
. Batofar, Association Signe st Eau, Alfortville, France 

1999 VIDARTE, Barranca del Muerto, Mexico
. Transat Video, Herouville Saint-Clair, France
. RAI SAT, SpA, Rome, Italy
. National Film and Video Archive (British Film Institute)
archiving all video works from 1975 -1995 for the nation

1998 Electronically Yours Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, Japan 
International Exhibition. British representative artist
. Pandemonium Video Festival, Lux Centre, London
. Zone Festival of Electronic Media, Maidstone
. Reinstallation of The Swimmer at The National Portrait Gallery, London

1997 I.C.A. London. Video Artists - presented and showing of video tapes curated
by Julia Knight
. Video Works Amongst The Permanent Collection Ferens Museum and Art Gallery, Hull
. Screens Exhibition of Electronic Moving Image, Trondheim Art Museum, Norway
. Small Is Beautiful Flowers East Gallery, London

1996 Pandem . Ferens Art Gallery, Hull. A Collection For The Future 7 monitor x 7 feed 
. Multi-Monitor Video Portrait - purchased for the collection 
. The Cutting Edge group show Davies Street Gallery - London

1995 4 Video Portraits London Institute Gallery group exhibition 
. ARTEC International Art &Technology Biennale Nagoya, Japan representing 
Britain - a retrospective of video portraits (installation) 
. Video Positive Liverpool The Ark a 7 monitor video portrait installation
. Artists Words, Fringe Gallery, Glasgow

1994 New works at Gallery M, London Fields. The Smoking Man sold to private collection
Exhibition of new digital prints and video object works
. The Swimmer reinstalled The National Portrait Gallery opened by
HRH Queen Elizabeth

1993 Kunstakademeit, Trondheim Norway. Residency and commissio Portrait of The Mayor of Trondheim.
. The Portrait Now National Portrait Gallery temporary exhibition of contemporary 
portraiture showing Miniature Video Portrait The Smoking Man
. Multi- monitor video portrait The Swimmer purchased and installed at 
The National Portrait Gallery, London


2000 - Arts and Humanities Research Board small grants award.
1999 - Arts and Humanities Research Board Leave Award (10 month award) 
- Co-production Residencey, Banff Centre For The Arts, Canada
- British Council Travel Award
1998 - Old Firestation (3 year) Residency in East London supported by Acme
and The Paul Hamlyn Foundation
1994 - Greater London Arts Research Award
1993 - British Council Travel Award
- Artist- in- Residence Kunst Academy, Tronheim, Norway
1991 - British Council Travel Award
- Artist in Residence, 101 Gallery, Ottawa, Canada
1990 - The Harold Hya Video Portraits
1989 - Gulbenkian Major Performance Award
1988 - Arts Council of England Major Performance Project Award
1987 - Arts Council of England Artists Training Award (Ballroom/ Latin American Dancing) - British Council Travel Award
1985 - British Council Travel Award
1983 - Arts Fellowship Rochdale College of Art
- British Council Travel Award
1981 - Started working on pieces with Anne Wilson
1980 - Arts Council of England Special Applications Performance / Visual
Arts Award.
1979 - Welsh Arts Council Film Award
1978 - Welsh Arts Council Performance Bursary
1976 - Welsh Arts Council Film Award.


2001 Paper to be presented at Harris Museum/Lancaster University on Digital Aesthetics
1999 - 2000 
AHRB (The Arts and Humanities Research Board)
Title: The Moving versus The Static Image in fine art.
Including a series of exhibitions as outcomes and research carried out in the 
USA (New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Arizona), Australia and the Far East


Robin Gibson
Painting The Century 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900 - 2000.
(NPG Publications). ISBN hb 1 85514 289 9.
2000. P 268 / 269.

Mike Legget
Photofile No 60 photographic publication of the artists digital prints, Sidney, Australia. CCP2000.

The Old Fire station. 
Acme Studios (publication) November 1999. 

John Cooper 
National Portrait Gallery a visitors guide. NPG2000. P 120-121. 

Electronically Yours (exhibition catalogue) 
Text Jasia Riechardt / Marty St.James. P120-128. Tokyo 1998.

Julia Knight 
Diverse Practices - a crit Edited by Julia Knight. Text by John Byrne 
(University Of Luton Press) 1997. P 253-255. 

Dave Curtis
A Directory of British Film And Video Artists 
Edited by Dave Curtis (Arts Council) 1996. text by Jeremy Welsh. P178-179. 

Sean Cubitt
Videography. Video Media and Art Culture (Macmillan) 1995. 
Cover Photograph /P66-67. 

Artec 95 (exhibition catalogue)
Text Jasia Reichardt / Marty St.James. Nagoya City Art Museum.1995. P22-25.

Robin Gibson
The Portrait Now National Portrait Gallery, London 1993. P75/119.

Videonale In Bonn (exhibition catalogue)
Edited by Petra Unnutzer. Bonner 
European Media Festival Osnabruck (exhibition catalogue)
Edited by Eckhard Diesing. Medienkunst Festival 1990. P58/156-157.

The Fire station. A William Raban 35mm film. Shown at the Sony Pictures
screening theatre, London. (Marty St.James is one of the artists featured) 
17th May 2000. 


1981 - Member (and previous chair) of London Electronic Arts (LUX)


1998 The National Film and Video Department at the British Film Institute
archive 40 of the artists single channel video works made in the 
late 1970's / 80's /early 90's for the nation.

Introduction - Exhibition - Opening & Internet Conference - Essays - Press - Contact - Russian Version
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