The sensation of being up high can bring a sense of exhilaration and fear in equal measure. The building of towers, skyscrapers, viewing platforms all attest to the appeal of being over and above the landscape or the city. Early technologies such as aerial photography were taken up by both planners and the military with eager enthusiasm. The view down can provide a dangerous privilege for the viewer a sense of separation; for the urban, Michel de Certeau described the feeling as being ‘lifted out of the city’s grasp’. In the film The Third Man, Orson Well’s character Harry Lime, uses the vantage point of being on a Ferris Wheel above Vienna to ask ‘would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving for ever?’, as an excuse for his black marketeering in ineffective drugs.
There is a history of art providing a new or alternative perspective. Up/Down looks at contemporary responses - it considers the relationship of the body to that of experience. This could be through the negotiation of the body through everyday life, it could relate to the political division of space. It might involve the use of up as a means of escape, or the possibility of down as a link to more grounded and real things. Throughout this important relationship, there is the sense that always perspective generates implications for the viewer. The exhibition will be a site where some of those things are tested out.