Tim Head's work is about instability and uncertainty: of images, of perception and of the individual's relationship with the wider world. Over the past forty years he has developed a considerable body of work in an extraordinary range of media – including installations, photography, paintings and now digital media – guided and underpinned by a consistent set of concerns. His work represents an interrogation of contemporary reality.
Tim Head studied with Richard Hamilton at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1965-69 and then with Barry Flanagan at St Martin’s in London 1969-70. In 1968 he spent a year in New York working as assistant to Claes Oldenburg and meeting leading figures in the Conceptual Art movement, including Robert Smithson and Sol Lewitt. In 1971 he worked as an assistant to Robert Morris. Since 1971 Head has been an influential teacher at both Goldsmiths and the Slade in London.
Head first came to prominence in the early 1970s with a series of ground-breaking installations at the Museum of Modern
Art, Oxford (1972), the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1974) and participation in important group shows including the 8th Paris Biennale, Musee D'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1973), Arte Inglese Oggi, Palazzo Reale, Milan (1976) and Documenta 6, Kassel (1977). Head represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1980.
Since the 1990s Head has developed an innovative and important body of work focussed on an exploration of digital space. This new work uses projections LCD displays and inkjet prints to articulate 'the digital medium's elusive material substance'.
Head has stripped back the screen image, the computer programme and the digital print to their ubiquitous basic constituents – the pixel, the coded instruction and the inkjet dot – and uses them to construct works that reveal the illusory quality of this digital dimension.
The work focuses on the digital medium's elusive material substance and on our evolving relationship to it as a physical entity. It uses the medium's physical characteristics that make it uniquely different from other media. Bypassing its usual role of representing images and texts, the work deals directly with its basic material elements - the luminous fabric of pixels on a screen or digital projection, the flurry of microscopic ink droplets laid down by the inkjet printer, and the hidden real time calculations of the computer operating at ultra fast speeds that drive these elements. The medium's underlying material substance is exposed, moving it out from its usual confinement in virtual space towards the same physical space that we ourselves occupy.
The works that these processes produce are surprisingly beautiful, at once visually seductive and conceptually rigorous. Moreover, they represent a continuation of concerns that have preoccupied Head since his earliest exhibitions, an investigation of reality and perception. As Michael Bracewell recently wrote, 'The art of Tim Head has long made articulate the curious yet forcefully real schisms which exist between the techno-materiality of the modern world and our experience of its constitution.'
Tim Head has exhibited internationally since 1972. Notable solo exhibitions include the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1980), ICA, London (1985), Whitechapel Art Gallery (1992), Kunstverein Frieburg (1995), Huddersfield Art Gallery (2009), Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (2010) and Modern Art Oxford (2013). Recent important group exhibitions include The Indiscipline of Painting, Tate St Ives, (2011), Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Post Modernism, V&A, London (2011), the Lyon Biennale (2003) and Days Like These, Tate Britain, London (2003). Head’s work is in important international collections including Tate, London, Arts Council Collection, London, British Museum, London and the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York.