Interview with Reynir Hutber at Arebyte, London

During his residency at Arebyte, London, Reynir Hutber has transformed the gallery space into a dynamic entity, generated by the interaction of linear structures, video recording devices and audio works. On the eve of the opening event, Droste Effect has met Reynir to ask him some questions about the show and his practise.


Reynir Hutber, LIVE|WORK, installation at Arebyte, London 2016

Reynir Hutber, LIVE|WORK, installation at Arebyte, London 2016


Manu Buttiglione: On 29 July you are presenting LIVE|WORK, a project you have been working on for several months during your residency at Arebyte. Can you give us a quick preview of the show?

Reynir Hutber: LIVE | WORK takes its name from the many artists’ live & work spaces in the local area. The name also references live art and live broadcasting – as the gallery is constantly surveyed and relayed by online cameras. Lastly, the installation has an architectural feel – as if I am in the process of designing and building a space in which to live – a half-formed fantasy of an ideal home. Put simply, the installation is composed of a series of linear structures that suggest a number of architectural possibilities. A CCTV camera, installed at a calculated perspective, translates these lines into a recognizable structure. I have also developed a number of audio works that take the form of short stories. These stories touch on issues of social visibility in the era of smart objects and automated access. They have become a way of addressing and developing other aspects of the work that may be more subtle.

MB: Returning to the idea of a space with an ‘architectural feel’, you have conceived minimal, site-specific sculptures which redefine the spatial structure of the studios creating a new, weightless environment. How did you get to this new approach to the space?

RH: The aesthetic was initially inspired by architectural drawings and wireframe CGI models of proposed buildings. When people enter the space they will see themselves as something like ‘render ghosts’ in the outlines of an unrealised living space. When I found out that the space which the gallery occupies would be knocked down and redeveloped into flats, this helped cement the idea in the location.


Reynir Hutber, LIVE|WORK, installation at Arebyte, London 2016

Reynir Hutber, LIVE|WORK, installation at Arebyte, London 2016


MB: Since the early stages, your work has often involved the use of the camera or, in general, of recording devices. How have you started including these technologies in your installations/performative works? What has inspired you at first?

RH: I started working in performance and I became interested in how images of performances could be distinct from the events themselves, how images are cropped, coloured, even digitally altered to emphasise an idea or fit a certain narrative. Using digital relays was a way of exploring this notion in real time. You could occupy a space while being presented with a recreation of that space you didn’t recognise, that felt removed and alien. I was interested in how this sense of distance and alienation could be evoked through mediation and what the cultural implications of that might be.

MB: Another interesting aspect of your work is the active and often unpredictable involvement of the public. What is activating the participation of the visitors in this work at Arebyte?

RH: Perhaps a sense of spacial disorientation and the desire to make sense of an image. Hopefully people will have the opportunity to think as well as interact – being simultaneously involved in, and separated from, an artwork.

MB: Among your recent projects, which one achieved the best results in terms of participation? What has been in your opinion the most interesting/inspiring approach from a member of the public?

RH: I think my work is quite authored. There is often the opportunity for a kind of disingenuous participation, but it’s arguable whether the audience can really change the conditions of the work. In terms of a dramatic range of reactions, Stay Behind the Line (2010) was perhaps the most notable. In this work the audience had the opportunity to witness themselves interacting with a recording of my vulnerable body. Some people chose to cover the figure with their jackets to keep it warm or have tried to feed it. Others reacted in a way that spoke of serious sexual abuse or gang violence.


Reynir Hutber, LIVE|WORK, installation at Arebyte, London 2016

Reynir Hutber, LIVE|WORK, installation at Arebyte, London 2016


MB: During these months at Arebyte, you have probably had the chance to get to know closer the current development of Hackney Wick – an area that we can consider one of the most significant examples of the process of gentrification of the East End. As a London-based artist, do you think that the ‘creative class’ is really playing a crucial role in this process?

RH: I haven’t spent enough time in Hackney Wick to make anything more substantial than an observation. I think it’s interesting that creative people are considered to be a class. Of course, as living costs and further education become prohibitively expensive, it’s likely that creative professionals will be increasingly drawn from the same class background. I think there is no avoiding the fact that artists play an established role in creating the conditions for gentrification, but that isn’t the same as saying that they cause it or that they are the ones who really benefit from it.

Reynir Hutber, LIVE|WORK
29 July – 30 August, 2016

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by Manu Buttiglione
in Focus on Europe

Wed Development by Digital Art Factory