Space on Skype and Space in the Studio

Space on Skype and space in my studio: I am painting from a still taken from a Skype call of my father-in-law, who I can at the same time see on my laptop screen, which is streaming live from Singapore via Skype. He is seated in the room 7,000 miles East that serves as my studio when I’m there. We’ve never had a shared language, and these days Mr. Chin is silent – all I can hear is the fan’s whirr and birds calling in the gardens below the apartment. Usually he’s browsing an art book, or perhaps watching a Chinese history drama on the second screen in the studio while his son is downstairs at the hawker centre picking up supper for them both, and sometimes when I interrupt the painting and look back over my shoulder to check that he’s still there and OK, he looks up and straight at me in the same split moment. My space expands suddenly; it rushes right through the screen and into that Singapore room, and bounces back out again through the laptop glass and into my London studio and over past my shoulder into the painting I am making of the same scene that I can see streaming on Skype, and disappears through the painting surface again – both physical and emotionally connected spaces telescoped and concentrated, then enlarged again and freed into the studio air, ricocheting to and fro before being sucked back into the space behind the canvas.

Gavin Maughfling, London 2014

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