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Mike Leggett

Author 
Andrew Frost

Mike Leggett is as an artist, curator, lecturer, researcher and administrator. Working since the mid-1960s Leggett has produced experimental film and video works, live performances and installations, collaborations with poets and playwrights and pioneering work with interactive media and computer technologies. Leggett’s oeuvre represents an abiding fascination with the material qualities of various media, the translation of intention and language in visual form, and the various aesthetic effects produced by this process.   

Leggett was awarded a Masters of Fine Arts by the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in 1999 and a PhD through the Creativity & Cognition Studios, Faculty of Engineering & Information Technology at the University of Technology Sydney in 2008.

Early film projects such as The Lark [1966], Three Women of Bristol  [1967-8] and In The Park [1969] variously experimented with the immediacy, portability and availability of Super 8 and 16mm film production equipment while the series Sheepman & The Sheared [1970-76] a series of seven films assembled into a 2 hour 15 minute final work was structured via strict guidelines and considerations of both the subject being filmed – the English landscape – and the nature of the medium.

In various video works in the early to mid 1970s, Leggett extended the considerations of structural filmmaking into video/film works such as Video Video/Film [print] (1973), Porter Pack [1973] and Outside The Grounds of Obscenity and Inside the Grounds of Hyde Park, an installation work staged as part of The Video Show, a group show of early video work at the Serpentine Gallery, London. The work featured “…a prepared videotape of 42-minutes duration, recording the scene through the gallery windows, [that was] progressively edited following a predetermined schema, with inserts of the same scene recorded at later periods in the performance” [mikeleggett.com.au].

Leggett’s work in the 1980s and 1990s continued to combine various visual media in a variety of settings including collaborative media installations such as Brunel’s Dream [1983], A History of Airports [1985] and Image Con Text [1978-2005]. J. Hatfield observed that, "Leggett's early experiment was with film, though his exploration of video started in the '70s with CCTV and performance ... and re-contextualizing the video image as film, to questioning the electronic technology and its 'ambiguities'. Leggett has moved fluidly between shifting moving-image technologies, film, video and digital, and engages the audience directly with the associated and variable discourses" [mikeleggett.com.au]

In 1996 Leggett co-curated with Linda Michael Burning The Interface <International Artists CD-ROM> at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  Featuring the work of more than 100 individual artists the exhibition was one of the first such shows in the world that showcased the work of artists utilising emergent technologies such as the CD-ROM and the early internet. Jon Conomos noted that “Burning The Interface is not only a survey exhibition of the more creative instances of personal CD-ROM art but illustrates how these multimedia exhibits are transforming many of our assumptions about what constitutes art and to be ‘human’ and are an integral part of our  ‘lifeworld’ and its growing non-neutral deep technological concerns and textures”  [Jon Conomos, Realtime, Feb/March 1996].

Leggett’s recent projects include Critical Light Pathways [2010], an experimental project with Alan Schacher at a choreographic choreographic research and development centre for dance artists, Bush_Regen [2010], a HD video loop to be projected on to the side of a building, and Bosun’s Chair [2010], a short video screened at the Australian International Experimental Film Festival in 2011

Date 
b. 1945
Birth place
United Kingdom
Period of activity 
from 1965

Lives and works

England
1966 - 1988
Melbourne
Victoria
Australia
1988 - 1992
Sydney
New South Wales
Australia
1992
Image Con Text: One, – via Vimeo 
A History of Airports [Extract], – via Vimeo 
Tender Kisses, – via Vimeo 
Laurel's Handle, – via Vimeo 
Film Lane, – via Vimeo 
Seen / Unseen: Again, – via Vimeo 
Unsculpt, – via Vimeo 
Bush_Regen, – via Vimeo