John Wood and Paul Harrison explore the physical and psychological parameters of the world around them through a series of immaculately constructed video works, informative and uninformative text pieces, drawings, doodles and half thoughts, and quite useful sculptures. As trust and support, and cause and effect are played out through simple material and conceptual gestures, the artists question and ultimately affirm a human position in the world that is essentially positive.
Since Wood and Harrison's first collaboration in 1993, their video works have evolved from single shot 'studies' filmed against neutral backgrounds to longer pieces in which a sequence of actions unfold within constructed locations that have more implicit meaning and contribute to greater narrative complexity. The videos maintain a strict internal logic, with the action directly related to the duration of the work. Inside this 'logical world' action is allowed to happen for no apparent reason, tensions build between the environment and its inhabitant, play is encouraged and the influences on the work are intentionally mixed.
In 10×10 (2011), a camera appears to track down the outside of an office block, looking into a series of identical rooms. In each scenario, stories are implied but not explained as solitary characters manipulate the office furniture and other objects in order to pass the time. Time is also being passed in Bored Astronauts on the Moon (2011). On the moon, the artists have found a location in which the earthly parameters of time, space and gravity, the very parameters that have been so rigorously tested in earlier works, don't apply and, consequently, it would appear that they have nothing to do. Yet, while pointing up the absurdity of so many earthly concerns, Wood and Harrison still communicate an affirmation of place and purpose, despite their apparent idleness. Even here, there are things that happen.
John Wood and Paul Harrison have had major solo exhibitions at Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. Selected group shows include British Council Touring, China; Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Kunsthalle Tallin, Estonia; Whitechapel Gallery, London. Works held in collections include MoMA, New York; Tate, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Arts Council Collection, British Council Collection, and the Government Art Collection, UK.