Dominic Harris is an artist who uses technology to construct highly personal interpretations of the natural phenomena which surround us. His reverence for nature coupled with his fascination for code offers a surreal and whimsical take on reality, which ultimately challenges our own perception of the world around us. His responses – aesthetic yet playful – conceal a carefully observed commentary on the digitisation of our daily experiences, which play upon both our emotions and our relationship with technology-fuelled 21st century pop culture.
As these technologies, unstoppable and fascinating, have ignited a new wave of interactivity in ever more intimate ways, Harris captures the sometimes menacing march of the information age, turning it to our advantage in an insightful and seamless blending of nature with code. He is part of a small yet important coterie of artists who are pushing the envelope of feasibility and redefining what is acceptable within the art world.
Dominic graduated from Cranbrook Kingswood School in Michigan, US and returned to England to read Architecture at the Bartlett School, University College London. He graduated with top distinctions, qualifying as an architect in 2003 and going on to work for the avant-garde architectural practice, Future Systems. In 2007 Dominic founded his own studio in London, where he and his team design, engineer, code and fabricate his artworks and installations.
In the foreword to Harris’s solo exhibition at Halcyon Gallery, curator Sunny Cheung writes, ‘a thread of existentialism exists in Dominic Harris’s work, a certain preoccupation with flowers, petals, butterflies, and a fascination with metamorphosis and transformative experiences’. This is echoed throughout Harris’s practice as ‘recurring elements and motifs’ shed light on his close relationship with the natural world and its ability to be intertwined with the performative and immersive persona of the digital phenomena which has firmly anchored itself in society today.
Dominic Harris has participated in many international art fairs including Kinetica Art Fair, London in 2009, celebrating the emergence of new media as a pivotal platform. Gaining further international acclaim, Harris exhibited in Langham Plaza, Hong Kong with Flutter (2011) in 2011 and Design Basel from 2012–2018. London Design Festival saw Ice Angel (2012, 2015) and Walk the Light (2012) installed in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London in 2012. Most recently in 2019 at the Museum Sinclair-Haus, Bad Homburg, Germany, Harris exhibited in the group exhibition Beating Wings, an exploration of the relationship between humans and insects, celebrating the work of artists who portray the behaviour and nature of these small creatures in their artworks.
Works such as Ruffled (2014, 2017), for which Harris turns his attention to the world of ornithology, creating living portrait studies of the birds with which he is most intrigued, each brought to life through a startlingly lifelike virtual representation on screen, and Simulated (2017), a conceptual artwork which challenges the fidelity of the viewers’ objectivity between what text is being displayed and what text is being understood, both featured in The Salon New York in 2017. Employing an optical sleight of hand to bring butterflies to life within antique bell jars and drawing inspiration from the Pepper’s ghost Victorian illusion technique, Dominic Harris resumed his role as a digital lepidopterist within his new medium of holography in Flutter Hologram (2017), presented in Art Miami in 2018.
Selected to present at Design Miami/Basel’s exhibition platform ‘Curio’, Harris introduced Baby Shimmer (2018), an immersive installation which acts as a physical amplification of his fascination with the audience’s role and interaction with light, colour and movement. This work demonstrates Harris’s obsession with viewer engagement and what the artist described as ‘low fidelity, high granularity’ as the ultra-low resolution pixellation of shifting colour presented within the installation, signifying simpler times of less resolution and lower fidelity in a response to a new era in which our lives are becoming increasingly digitised.
Deserted (2016) made its first appearance in 2018, a composition of four distinct scenes portraying three very different deserts in North America: White Sands, New Mexico, Joshua Tree National Park, California and Monument Valley, on the Utah/Arizona border. In the fourth scene, Harris plays upon the NASA lunar landing conspiracy theories, presenting a landscape that could be either on earth or on the moon. Swell, installed on the Royal Caribbean ship in April 2019 saw an enormous collaboration between engineers, designers and fabricators from Harris’s studio in the installation of the most innovative kinetic art sculpture produced by the studio yet.
Cheung states, ‘Harris’s work carries on an artistic tradition where rapid advances in technology allowed for new ways to experiment and for artists to harness this experimentation to produce new works of art that mixed learning and thought with aesthetic consideration.’ 2019 sees the artist exhibit his first solo exhibition at Halcyon Gallery.
Halcyon Gallery (144-146 New Bond Street, London, W1S 2PF)
7 November – 31 December
Open daily Monday – Saturday 10am-6pm Sunday – 11am-5pm