© Ed Simpson. All rights reserved. contact edjsimpson@gmail.com

Ed Simpson considers the influence of imagery on identity: specifically the impact of commercial images such as printed and filmed advertisements, interiors, retail spaces, websites, magazines. These prevalent media form aspirations and desires, representing an ‘ideal’.

Ed explores how the male identity is formed through societal constructs instructed by institutional directions and popular culture such as magazines, sports, advertising. These media use language and imagery to form goals the male can aspire to and work toward.

Simpson forms assemblages, collages, films and photographs that play with the tools of visual merchandising, design and fashion magazines, still life commercial photography, online shops and interior design. These are tools of the every day that send subliminal and explicit messages. Displays consist of an edit of findings, forming slick, controlled arrangements that are almost bland in their stillness and adoption of stylistic tendencies found in the media.

The isolation of found images means they take on iconic status. Stock images from advertising, government health warning campaigns, magazines, catalogues, books, online shops. They play with different types of masculinity: the alpha muscle bound model reclining on a modernist reproduction chaise, the impotent skinny victim of too much smoking writhing on a bed. 

Still life photographs by Simpson depict 3D collages of found images cut from glossy magazines such as Men's Health and GQ. Hands, often clenched into a fist, are an important signifier of strength and power. The wrists of these hands tend to have muscular watches on them. The cut outs are arranged on various acrylic forms and objects in a dim studio light, taking on the appearance of museum or auction catalogue images. The compositions of hands and watches form a mass of colour and texture. Body parts and objects are disconnected to emphasise their form and intention. A well coiffed hairline floats on miniature props, while hands fan out.

These photographs are layered over spreads found in interior magazines, pulling in the notion of aesthetics, particularly those of queer aesthetics. These contrast with the macho imagery of the straight male body and its adornments; the decorated interior seen as ‘feminine’.

Through the use of found and constructed photographs, films and objects, Simpson aims to breakdown, analyse and play with this language, considering how it informs and controls the viewer’s sense of self, how the viewer’s image of self is formed by the media. The consumer becomes performer.

Simpson collaborates with artist Oliver Herbert as part of PLAZA, a project focused on looking at public spaces and how they affect those who inhabit them. For more information please visit www.plazalondon.wordpress.com.