Key facts about the artist

The Somnambulist (1995)

McMurdo uses photography and film to explore the relationship between technology and identity
Born
Edinburgh
Fellowship
Henry Moore Fellowship (1993–6)
Lectured at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design 1990-2002
Studied
Edinburgh, New York and London

Gallery


Video: Art in Scotland TV - Wendy McMurdo : Digital Play

Video: The Loop (2009)

About Wendy's work

Wendy McMurdo is a photographer and filmmaker who focuses on the relationship between technology and identity expressed through the images and ideas of childhood. She looks at the psychological world of children and young people, both as a protected space and, increasingly, as a ground for marketing wars and a prematurely forced adulthood. 

McMurdo has been a long-time expert in leading-edge, digital photography a working process that nevertheless owes much to early photography pioneers. This allows her to reflect directly on the innate relationship between child’s play, make-believe and technological image making. In her earlier works for example, In a Shaded Place (1995) she used photographic techniques to make unnerving images in which children would confront their own doubles.

She recognises that our relationship with the digital world has not stood still. The introduction of computers into early learning has meant that children very quickly become fully networked, online and social beings. This is affecting whole generations and reframing how we develop a sense of identity, how we behave and interact with each other.

McMurdo’s The Skater (2009) created figures inhabiting a similar fantastical world, somewhat like a computer gamer. The related film work, The Loop (2009), showed a girl mimicking the actions of a figure skater on a neighbouring screen, highlighting the desire to play in both physical and digital realms. What is going through the mind of this young gamer, as she mirrors the expert adult caught on an unworldly screen that she studies? We witness the very borderline between fantasy and reality as it forms in the mind of a child.

Recently, McMurdo has extended her technological interest by exploring the growth of artificial intelligence, particularly ‘social robots’. In the series My Real Baby (2009 onwards) scenes were created that put advanced ‘servant’ robotics together with people (both young and adult) to emphasise these humanising electronic forms. Just how much closeness can we tolerate with a responsive machine? Artists such as McMurdo use advanced lens-based techniques to reflect and comment vividly on developments in contemporary science.

Biography

Wendy McMurdo (born 1962 in Edinburgh) graduated BA (Hons) in Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art in 1985. She studied at the Pratt Institute, New York (1986) and completed her MA at Goldsmiths College, London in 1993. She is currently completing a PhD at the University of Westminster. She received a Henry Moore Fellowship (1993–5) and was a lecturer at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee from 1990 to 2002. Solo exhibitions include In a Shaded Place – The Digital and the Uncanny, British Council touring exhibition (2009) and The Skater, ff30 commission, Ffotogallery, Wales (2009). Group exhibitions include The Digital Eye: Photographic Art in the Electronic Age, The Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle (2011) and Unheimlich, Fotomuseum, Winthertur, Switzerland (1999). She lives and works in Edinburgh.

More information

‘Wendy McMurdo: Digital Play’, Source – photographic review, Spring 2012

Wendy McMurdo: The Skater, Ffotogallery, Cardiff, 2009

Wendy McMurdo, Centro de Fotografia, Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, Spain, 2001

Two limited edition prints have been produced to accompany Wendy McMurdo's exhibition at StreetLevel Photoworks in Glasgow. These limited editions can be purchased from the gallery during the run of the show or direct from Wendy McMurdo's website.

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