David Cass: New Media Projects

I'm an artist who has spent the last five years working on very specific artworks - mostly under the umbrella of Painting. As of mid 2014, I embarked upon a new series of projects, that see my camera(s) as their principal medium. These projects are wide ranging in their exploration, but unified by theme. I'm looking for evidence, for traces of past lives - the lives of places, the lives of people.

My painting practice is heavily concerned with the past. I work exclusively with found objects, creating artworks with, and upon, items and objects of considerable age. I create paintings which bear witness to their previous lives, picking surfaces that speak of function, of use. In these paintings, the subject matter has always been the passing of time - most evidently in my paintings of sea: timeless scenes aimed at offering the viewer a moment of reflection.

These 'new-media' works inform and support my painted works, whilst also documenting my research and travels.

17.09.14 • First of two visits to Cortijo Don Bruno, Orce, Granada, ES

In Franco’s Spain, in the 1960s (when many of the farmhouses in this part of Spain were abandoned), those living in remote locations such as this were encouraged to move to their nearest villages and towns. The ready availability of petroleum meant that rural farming changed drastically – as did rural life. The arrival of the tractor was one of the key developments – fewer hands were needed to work the land. Farmers and their families and farm-workers too, no longer had to live on the land, and so farmsteads, and indeed entire communities were abandoned. Taken as a whole, this abandonment occurred for an accumulation of reasons, but the story remains the same – life is hard here, in the badlands (as it's named on the local map), working this coarse, semi-arid terrain – under the unforgiving sun.

I’m always drawn to sites and objects that bear witness to their past life. These photographs seek to investigate: to capture and document traces – evidence of life. Just as my paintings are created upon surfaces which evidence their previous function (their previous lives) these photographs depict dormant spaces – spaces where lives were once led.

And though the initial abandonment here occurred because new options were on offer in Spain’s towns and cities, the move away from this desert-like landscape gradually became permanent, irreversible. Locals no longer cared for water catchment systems – occasional flooding and freak weather clogged terrace systems, and nobody cleaned the channels. And so wells and ‘embalsas’ (reservoirs) went dry, and eventually the majority of land here was rendered arid, only just fit for livestock. Many of these abandoned farmhouses became places to feed and shelter that livestock. Today’s generation no longer wish to return to these homes.