David Standing 4th May 2004 and David Sitting 4th May 2004 is a work comprising two unique, individually framed screenprints that each have their own title but are unified as a single artwork. It was produced in an edition of five, of which Tate owns the first. Although the work is editioned, each example in the edition could be considered unique in the sense that the artist has made the works individually and they therefore bear slight variations. Myles used a 6x7 camera and shot negative colour film of the scene. After choosing the two images he wanted from the shoot, he transferred these into halftone films for screenprinting. He printed a rectangle of silver acrylic paint onto each sheet of paper and then overprinted the halftone image. The two screenprints should be exhibited in a vertical configuration, with David Standing ... above David Sitting ... .
Both images appear to be night shots and feature a bus shelter and a man. Their difference is that, as its title indicates, David Standing ... captures the man standing on the bus shelter, while David Sitting ... shows the same man sitting on it. Myles’s work often explores the performing body as sculptural object. As the artist explains:
In placing a figure on the bus shelter I was treating the roof of the shelter as a kind of shelf, or plinth for display. This was taken to its logical conclusion with my later artwork Analysis 2005 in which a bus shelter was upturned and displayed on top of the other akin to a mirror image. With the David ... prints I wanted to present a figure high up suggestive of seeing structurally or more clearly from above, as written about in Roland Barthes’ essay about the building of the Eiffel Tower.
(Email to the author, 3 August 2010.)
The Barthes passage to which Myles refers is the following:
On top of the wonderful sense of elation, freedom, which comes from being high up, the panoramic view confers also an incomparable power of intellection: bird-flight, which every visitor to the Tower can momentarily experience for himself, allows the world to be read and not merely perceived, which is why it corresponds to a new sensibility of vision; hitherto, to travel was to be buried, sunk, in sensation to apprehend nothing but a kind of welter or tide-race of things; bird-flight, in contrast, represented by our Romantic writers as though they had a premonition both of the building of the Tower and the birth of aviation, allows one to go beyond sensation and see things in their structure.
(Roland Barthes, ‘The Eiffel Tower’, The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies, transl.Richard Howard, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1997, p.9.)
Both images in P79061 appear quite dark. The first image is considerably brighter, as it is illuminated by what appears to be street lighting behind the bus shelter, diffused through its Perspex panes and coming directly from a source of light to its left. The pictures were taken at night in the large metal workshop at Glasgow Sculpture Studios, where the artist had installed the bus shelter. He has explained that he used flash in order to illuminate the bus shelter and the man like a lantern and figure. He was conscious of the setting of a sculpture workshop and wanted to show some elements of this, such as the tools visible around the edges of the bus shelters (email to the author, 3 August 2010). The colour photographs that he took were already quite dark and he enhanced this by overprinting. Myles regularly overprints when he is screenprinting, as the overprinting of multiple layers often brings about an opacity that interests him.
Bus shelters have a particular significance for Myles. Wh