Laura Jean Healey (b. 1983) uses new and emerging digital film technologies to explore the nature of the cinematic experience. In particular, her work examines the role and objectification of the female form within the screen, the inherent paradoxical nature of cinema exhibition and the desire it raises within the spellbound spectator.
Having received a First Class BA Honours from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2006, where she specialised in 16mm film and installation, Healey has continued to inform her artistic practice by working within the film industry as a digital camera technician, where she was mentored by the award winning BSC Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey in 2007 and works closely with both the camera and VFX departments. Inspired by her extensive experience and technical understanding, Healey has become fascinated with the nature of the camera’s gaze and the work of the film theorist, Tom Gunning, who likened the early cinema to that of a ‘Cinema of Attractions’, in which the projected image exists as pure spectacle, solicits the audiences voyeuristic gaze and encourages their curiosity. In this context, Healey believes that the cinema screen is a theatrical space of ‘pure exhibition’ and it is within the projected film plane - especially now that digital film formats are becoming more and more prevalent - that a tension is realised between the material and the immaterial.
Healey’s work draws upon and merges the use of digital technologies, including digital high-speed filming and holographic film projection, with traditional filmmaking techniques and classic Hollywood cinematic visuals to create large, cinematic, film installations that seek to both engage and seduce her audience. While her work embraces a surreal, dreamlike, and haunting quality, Healey seeks to find the beautiful and then draw out an element of the ugly – or grotesque – in order to create a disturbingly beautiful aesthetic in which she is free to explore the more obscure or seemingly taboo subject areas, such as female sexuality. In particular, Healey produced the very first slow motion, holographic film installation filmed entirely underwater, The Siren. This critically acclaimed film explores the sexual clichés attached to the perception of the siren – and in turn all women – and in doing asks the audience to question these archaic preconceptions. The Siren has been exhibited internationally and was awarded the Passion for Freedom Film Gold Award for it’s ‘artist value and powerful message embodying the freedom of women’ and the MAMA's Corporate Award for its innovative artistic design concept using the Musion Eyeliner (holographic projection) system.