'Almost There' is a project that combines painting and music. Joe collaborated with twelve bands and solo artists to create a series of paintings that have an accompanying original soundtrack. Each painting has a song written specifically for that piece, inspired by the scene and composed to compliment the mood of the image. The paintings were exhibited with headphones beside them, so that you could simultaneously listen to the music and view the image. The visual and audio components come together to create one new piece of art.
The twelve paintings show scenes from one characters journey, as he leaves the city to find redemption on the open road.
The project received funding from the Arts Council England and headphone sponsorship from Audio Technica. An accompanying soundtrack was released, which is available to buy on iTunes. The exhibition was launched in London at the Candid Arts Trust in February 2009, it was then shown from April -June at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale. There was a special concert held in the art centre’s theatre, where 'Almost There's contributing bands and musicians played extended sets to a live audience. Since then the project has toured around the UK.
The images draw reference to cinematography, particularly the 'road-movie' genre, to evoke the feel and mood of a film still. The widescreen format, filmic composition and theatrical use of light enhance the cinematic quality of the images. As well as a literal journey, the twelve scenes depict the character's internal journey, this is represented through the character physically changing - growing stubble, getting longer hair and wearing different types of clothes.
Rather than attempt to tell a specific and clear story, it is left ambiguous how the twelve scenes are connected. The scenes are almost the 'in-between moments', reminiscent of the soundtrack driven montage scenes from films. The narrative element to the project is as much about the un-revealed time between the scenes, what isn't shown can be as pertinent as what is. An example can be found in painting number seven where the character is seen knocking on the door of a large house, the next scene shows him looking beat-up and bruised, it is up to the viewer to imagine the events between the images.
Throughout the paintings there are references to other road stories such as 'Broken Flowers' and 'On the Road', these are deliberate nods towards the road trip mythology. The road trip idea is ingrained in culture, after Kerouac, 'Born to Run', and a thousand road movies - certain expectations and clichés are always going to be there. There's an expectation for somebody on a road trip to have an epiphany, or realization, or of 'arriving' in some way. It's impossible to not be aware of this, the character in 'Almost There' is really trying to be that Kerouac character he is waiting to for the moment when everything makes sense. The title of the project, 'Almost There', references his attempt to arrive at this state of mind, to have an epiphany, but it always seems slightly out of reach.
The road trip journey metaphor really stands for hope, hope - that anywhere is better than being here, that somewhere on the road you can turn into the person that you want to be.