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Spencer Bewley
16mm Visual Projection Installation
Photo Credit: Basil Whatley
 

SPENCER BEWLEY WAS BORN IN NEWMARKET, SUFFOLK IN 1971, ALTHOUGH GREW UP IN BRAINTREE IN ESSEX, ENGLAND. BEWLEY HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN ENTHUSIAST FOR BOTH MUSIC AND VISUAL WORKS AND UNITES THE TWO INTO ONE DYNAMIC PERFORMANCE PIECE.

BEWLEY PREDOMINANTLY WORKS IN FOUND AND SELF-PRODUCED 16MM FILM, WHICH HE CULLS, REFRAMES, AND RADICALLY RE-CONTEXTUALIZED FOOTAGE, JUXTAPOSING AS MANY AS FOUR PROJECTED IMAGES AT A TIME TO CREATE RECKLESS, RIDDLING AND YET FULLY SYNTHESIZED VISUAL POEMS. HIS PROJECTIONS ARE SCREENED ONTO SPECIFIC BACKDROPS, SOMETIMES SITE SPECIFIC TRANSLUCENT GAUZE THAT HE INSTALLS. THE CONCERT-WITHIN-A-CONCERT REQUIRES SUCH DEXTERITY AND ACUITY IN THE MOMENT, A SUBLIME SLEIGHT OF HAND AND FAST-PACED JUGGLERY, SUCH THAT THE ARTIST’S BODY IS INCORPORATED INTO THE WORK ITSELF, BECOMING ANOTHER VEHICLE IN THE EXQUISITELY JAM-TANGLED DEMONSTRATION.

THERE ARE MANY DEFINING MOMENTS IN BEWLEY’S LIFE THAT INSPIRE HIS WORK. HOWEVER, ONE OF HIS EARLIEST EXPERIENCES THAT INTRODUCED HIM TO EXPLORING THE REALM OF THE PSYCHEDELIC, WAS DURING MIDDLE SCHOOL WHEN HIS TEACHER PLAYED JEFFERSON AIRPLANE’S “WHITE RABBIT” AS PART OF AN ANTI-DRUG CAMPAIGN. CONVERSELY, THIS EXPERIENCE ACTUALLY PROMPTED BEWLEY’S INTEREST IN PSYCHEDELIA.

ANOTHER REVELATORY POINT WAS IN THE MID-90S, WHILE ENROLLED IN A PART-TIME FOUNDATION AT ST. MARTIN’S SCHOOL OF ART, WHICH WAS ALSO DURING THE HEIGHT OF HIS LONDON CLUB-LIFE DAYS, WHEN BEWLEY SAW A SHOW BY A BAND CALLED THE SANDALS. THE BAND’S SHOW WAS ACCOMPANIED WITH A BARRAGE OF TRIPPY 16MM FILM PROJECTIONS, PUT TOGETHER BY THE PRODUCTION COMPANY, VEGETABLE VISION, WHOSE GRAPHICS TOOK THE MUSIC OFF INTO ANOTHER DIMENSION. BEWLEY WOULD LATER GO ON TOUR WITH THEM, CREATING THE VISUALS FOR THE BAND DEATH IN VEGAS, WHO WERE THE SUPPORTING BAND ON A COUPLE OF TOURS WITH THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, FOR WHOM VEGETABLE VISION DID THE PROJECTIONS. INCIDENTALLY, BEWLEY DROPPED OUT OF ART SCHOOL AFTER 4 WEEKS, TO FOCUS ON THE PROJECTION WORK THAT WAS BEGINNING TO COME HIS WAY.

BEWLEY MOVED TO NEW YORK IN 2003 WHERE HE HAS CONTINUED TO COLLABORATE WITH A NUMBER OF MOST NOTABLE ALTERNATIVE BANDS INCLUDING, BEAK (WITH PORTISHEAD’S GEOFF BARROW), GOASTT (WITH SEAN LENNON) HOPE SANDOVAL AND THE WARM INVENTIONS (SANDOVAL OF MAZZY STAR AND COLM Ó CÍOSÓIG OF MY BLOODY VALENTINE), THE WARLOCKS, BECK, AND BETH ORTON. HE HAS ALSO COLLABORATED WITH VEHICLES OF ASCENSION, AN IMPROV JAZZ ENSEMBLE FEATURING SAXOPHONIST JAY RODRIGUEZ (OF GROOVE COLLECTIVE) AND PIANIST PETE DRUNGLE (OF ORNETTE COLEMAN’S BAND) WHEREIN THE MUSICIANS ATTEMPTED TO PHRASE THEIR MUSIC IN DIALOGUE WITH THE PASTICHE OF VISUALS BEWLEY PUT FORTH.

BEWLEY HAS PROJECTED HIS LIVE VISUALS AT DISPARATE VENUES RANGING FROM GLASTONBURY, THE BARBICAN, TERMINAL 5, HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY, THE 92ND STREET Y, HAMMERSTEIN BALLROOM, AND EVEN MORE OBSCURE VENUES; A FASHION SHOW FOR PUNK LEGEND/DESIGNER PAM HOGG, THAT WAS HELD ON A KINGS CROSS ROOFTOP WITH PRIMAL SCREAM ACCOMPANYING, TO GURNING RAVES AT A CLUB THAT OCCUPIED THE INTERIOR OF A SET OF RAILWAY ARCHES UNDER LONDON BRIDGE.

HE HAS PRESENTED HIS DRAWINGS, ASSEMBLAGE, LIGHTBOXES, PHOTOGRAPHS AND PROJECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF ART SHOWS IN INSTALLATIONS AT PIONEER WORKS, SOLO SHOWS AT MAGNUM GALLERY IN TRIBECA AND AT SUNNY’S IN RED HOOK. BEWLEY IS ALSO KNOWN FOR HIS COLLABORATIONS WITH VISUAL ARTIST DAN SABAU AT MULTIPLE GALLERIES IN NEW YORK CITY AND AN UPCOMING SOLO VIDEO SHOW AT LABSPACE IN GREAT BARRINGTON, MA.

SPENCER BEWLEY CURRENTLY LIVES AND WORKS IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK.