A Queer Shadow | single channel with interactive floor | 2007


Questions of a shift from interior, domestic space to exterior, sexualized space, inform A Queer Shadow, Lowther’s single projection interactive installation. It explores the spaces of being followed, or shadowed, with the allure or horror that the experience brings. The act itself is ambiguous, prefiguring both horror and delight, from the terror of gay-bashing to the delight of anonymous sexual encounters. Lowther remarks that “[f]or my purposes I am interested in situating the project on the edge between knowing and not knowing.”

The cinematic experience is drawn predominantly from film noir. Lowther was exploring the space of the detective, and situating the experience historically. For gay men, this is not unexpected, particularly given the oscillating relationships many homosexuals have with the authorities. History recounts a legacy of harassment and arrest for sexual orientation and sexual practice. So in A Queer Shadow, the figure that is following the viewer is both threatening and enticing at precisely the same moment. And in a culture in which the language of cruising has been adopted by police departments as a method of targeting gay men and limiting their dalliances, the work is entirely undecideable. Lowther has stated, “the vagueness and open-interpretation that the shadow motif provides are the essential ingredients of re-contextualizing noir for queer purposes.”

What we experience is a coded exterior space, a space in which one encounters a pick-up machine, to borrow a phrase from Guy Hocquenghem. As he observes, “[h]omosexual encounters do not take place in the seclusion of a domestic setting, but outside, in the open air, in forests and on beaches.” So when Lowther creates what, to the casual observer, appears to be an innocent scene, he is instead representing the experience and language of cruising.

What is significant is that it is a coded language. Men familiar with its nuances are able to decode its subtle meanings, and draw a range of meanings from even the slightest gesture.

excerpt taken from, "The Pick Up Artist" by Brett Levine