Mat Collishaw’s Breaking Faith is a video artwork that reflects on the changing nature of image-based technologies from the birth of photography to the digital image, the internet and now VR technologies.
The work is presented alongside Collishaw’s first VR exhibition and installation Thresholds which launches at Somerset House in London in May 2017 before touring across the UK. For the exhibition, Collishaw restages the world’s first exhibition of photography, which was presented in 1839 by British scientist William Henry Fox Talbot at King Edward’s School in Birmingham. The immersive VR experience transports viewers into the past where visitors can touch vitrines and fixtures which have been re-created in a life-size room. Breaking Faith is launched in support of Collishaw’s Kickstarter campaign for the exhibition where it is given as a reward to backers of the project.
The digital edition for Sedition features photographs by Talbot that digitally degrade and glitch. Printed photographs degrade with time, as Talbot’s photographic prints from the original exhibition have done. In the process they become lost relics of the past that cannot be recuperated. Similarly, the digital image can degrade, presenting a haunting image of the past as it fades with digital corruption. Breaking Faith replicated this degradation through its imagery as well as through its sound. The soundtrack is noisy and fuzzy with distortion and is overlaid by sounds of heavy rain, creating a dark and ominous atmosphere, which express the fragility of the digital image and the threat of data loss and file corruption in the digital age.