Archive for the Other Category

FILM|PERFORMANCE|SPACE – Collective-iz at Summerhall, 22nd November 2013

Posted in Film, Other on November 26, 2013 by lukeaspell

The FILM|PERFORMANCE|SPACE programme presented by Collective-iz at Summerhall in Edinburgh comprised three performance pieces and three films, executed and projected in two spaces.

The event began with Signals II, by Karolina Raczynski in collaboration with Deniz Johns, in which mirror signals were exchanged via Skype between Johns in Ankara and the audience in Edinburgh. During this piece, which was first performed at the Roundhouse in August, a third performance space is created virtually between the collective space of reply and the domestic space of transmission. Cutting across clock time in two cities, an appointed time of action takes place, between participants of no country. The explicit themes of this work are ‘time, location and light’; the process of their exposition is an expression of solidarity.

After a screening of Neil Henderson’s Candle (2006), a film well-known enough not to require discussion here, the audience were led to the Demonstration Room.

The second section of the programme began with Maria Anastassiou’s Deniz: bir, iki, üç, a silent record of verbal counting in which the act is visually divided and obscured by a fan in the hand of the speaker (Deniz Johns) as the camera’s shutter divides (and, imperceptibly, omits) fractions of the shooting time’s seconds. This divided time is looped, the loop projected for an unannounced duration by the filmmaker, begun on this occasion as the audience entered the space. This document, which at first resembles a simple film portrait, demonstrates the plasticity of film duration. This was the first of two films projected onto a blackboard from within the performance space (that is, the projector was positioned in front of the seated audience), and this surface paralleled the black, shallow screen space created by the descending fan.

Amy Dickson’s Light Time followed this. Behind a screen dyed with black thermochromic ink, candles are lit by the artist. As they burn, they return the area of the screen reached by their heat to its fabric’s original colour. The arrangement of the candles behind the screen, and the pace and repetition of the action, foreshadows the moment when all candles will be lit; a moment which, once reached, is not the completion of the action but its mid-point, to be followed immediately by the first candle’s quenching. Once all the candles have been lit, and as they are extinguished, the screen’s serial heat images recall, with its dimensions, a set of film negatives; a fading light if ‘read’ from left to right, and from top to bottom, the image of a pulse.

Dickson’s performance was followed by Rosemary, Again and Again (Cathy Rogers 2013), projected from the same position and on the same surface as Deniz: bir, iki, üç, and another film which uses the double time of looping projected for a defined duration, in this case permitting the viewer’s eyes to confirm the instability of all physical bearings in the rush of images, in which the film ‘intermittently’ (as it seems in projection’s simulated sequentiality) captures its own straight, sharp image among the organic shapes of the rosemary bush it was draped on.

The programme concluded with Glass by Jamie Jenkinson, in which the projection of an electronic light source, a white digital frame, is refracted by the interposition and motion of a selection of glass objects made by Shelley James into the most essential pre-cinematic forms. For this performance, the height of the space, position of the projection and reflectiveness of the walls’ surfaces permitted a sharply defined portrait rectangle of light (a graphic echo and negative image of the screen used in Light Time) into which the artist’s hand reached to place each object. Between each object’s turn in the light, there was an interval of darkness, during which the winding of the turning mechanism was heard.

In contrast to The Horse Hospital, where Collective-iz presented the related but different Now and Here programme in February, both spaces used for FILM|PERFORMANCE|SPACE were loosely theatrical; a converted lecture theatre and ‘demonstration room’, with audience seating oriented towards a central focal point. Much of the effect of the work on these spaces was to de-centre them, shifting audience attention – sometimes physically, as when Candle‘s projection followed Signals II on a screen at a diagonal angle, and in the transition from the first to the second space – and to accentuate their specific qualities, as in Glass‘s use of the Demonstration Room’s stark, untheatrical wall textures, and the film loops’ blackboard projection. The 16mm projector and the thermochromic screen of Light Time had been placed before the programme began and remained in position throughout.


New Contemporaries 2012 at the ICA

Posted in Film, Other on November 29, 2012 by lukeaspell

Some first thoughts on five videos included in this year’s show.

Untitled (Ready for a Fight) (Anita Delaney 2011, HD video):
Looped video, in portrait orientation, of an unresolved moment. A figure stands, face covered by a ragged cloth, fists raised. Through a hole in the cloth, a cigarette blows, its animation a further index of the shaking figure’s agitation. The space in which this happens is something between a cubicle and a yard, with features of both exterior and interior. Camera distance and lighting are theatrical; this is a space we look into, an impression accentuated by the screen’s own setting, behind a rectangular window (the piece was reportedly shown in Liverpool as a projection). The setting, the figure’s isolation and the predicament, on the brink of action, put me in mind of Beckett (the stance and dress reminiscent of Catastrophe), and this is one of the two videos I saw in which the looping seemed intrinsic to the piece’s meaning. Speaking with the artist later, I discovered that I had misread the sex of the figure. Knowing this, I’ll revisit the piece when I go to see some of the work I didn’t get a chance to spend time with on Tuesday night.

Coast to Coast (diptych) (Polly Read 2011, video):
A church interior in sunlight at Whitstable in Kent, a house exterior at night at Seaford, in Sussex. These locations are the coastal limits of a diagonal line of longitude. The two monitors are synchronised, and display the same input; along the line of a journey and a duration, we can only be in one place at a time. Bars of mild noise move up the image, two in the frame at any time, bringing to mind analogue tracking or detuned television reception; the movement of videotape over the head and the distance covered by a transmission. The shots, the axes of which shift gently with hand-held lightness, appear to have been slowed, creating the sense of a dialectic between remaining and departing.

73 (Piotr Krzymowski 2012, HD video):
A video based on a mathematical structure or grid. Numbers, white on black, are followed by a shot repeated that many times. The simplicity of this is filled by a kind of imagery never previously, to my knowledge, used in a work constructed on such lines. Bright sunlight; blue water; pétanque balls on sand. The images and sounds point up the fun of the structure; the structure points up the attention behind the captured instants. Our own durational attention is crucial to what this is doing, and like Polly Read’s video, it has a defined beginning and end. That, and its use of sound, makes me hope it will be possible to see it soon in a screening space more conducive to such attention.

Strolling (Tony Law 2012, video):
A compilation of interstitial moments in narrative films; moments in which narrative is composed of star acting, music, gesture and camera movement. A number of Asian actresses, in clips from compressed, low-definition sources, walk away, or to, or between, the stories. The sound has been removed; perhaps this combines with the compression to create a melancholy that the original soundtracks would have complicated. Perhaps, because the melancholy of silenced screens, readily apparent in the public spaces where we usually see them (a train station concourse, a pub), is, for me, less acute in an environment in which silent images are so often complete ones.

Circumspects (George Eksts 2011, HD video):
Horses exercising in a kind of circular enclosure whose name for the moment escapes me. The repetition of their motion becomes itself the repetition of watching a closed loop. It could be taken to say something about how installation video uses (and abuses?) duration; the horses walk endlessly forward in their prison. The piece is 16:9, exhibited on a wall-mounted flat-screen television on a corridor, in the way an equestrian or hunting scene might be placed on a landing or staircase. Its position invites a quick look, too quick to take in what it seems to suggest after having been seen in full several times over. Circumspection is, etymologically, looking around; we look around as we look cyclically, on a treadmill of seamless repetition, pitiless as surveillance.