Al Hopwood | Director
Al Hopwood is an award winning artist. He's made moving image, performance and exhibition projects with major international galleries including Tate Britain, Hayward Gallery, ICA London, Wellcome Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum and Mona (Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania). He's collaborated extensively with actors, filmmakers, writers, magicians, musicians, comedians, designers, cognitive psychologists, academics and scientists. He was Arts Editor of the style magazine Sleazenation and has written extensively for Art Review. In 2013 he was the first visual artist to be awarded a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowship and in 2019 he co-curated Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic at Wellcome Collection.
Temporary Chroma Key Memorial (2/6), Al Hopwood, 2021
"I'm interested in how visual culture influences the way we remember. WITH TV explores this fascinating territory in a project that is collaborative and playful. I like to turn the focus of my art away from 'me' (the author) and onto those who are engaging with the work. WITH TV takes this idea to another level by placing your story at centre stage. WITH TV proposes that we can enjoy playing with alternative versions of events from the past that are firmly rooted in fiction (these are not experiences to be believed) where regrets can be challenged, new journeys discovered, and different scenarios visualised. As in narrative film, these flights of fancy can be plausible or completely fantastical. They can be everyday or feature all the tropes of classic fiction. WITH TV stories should be considered consequence free, however they are intended to be meaningful and cathartic.
The narratives that we all tell about our past can be both joyous and oppressive (usually somewhere in-between) however they are just stories that we tell ourselves to make sense of our lives. Our ability to have vivid and compelling autobiographical memories greatly enriches our lives, however they can also have a negative impact. We know from over 40 years of scientific memory research that these recollections can easily distort over time - we add in details from different sources, place ourselves at the centre of the action and reconstruct whatever story makes the most sense at any given time. It's a wonderful, slightly dysfunctional system that blends real events and our imaginations to create the story of our 'self'.
Acknowledging that memory works this way doesn't mean that we abandon truth telling or that we should doubt the veracity of all our cherished memories. It just means that we can think more clearly about the way we think about our experiences, allowing us to develop a healthy scepticism towards some of our assumptions. It also means that we can decide to tell a different type of story about ourselves - one that is still truthful but that releases us from some of the burdens of the past. WITH TV should not be thought of as enabling such a process, however it does reflect artistically on such a notion.