MA Visual Arts final exhibition, 2012
Kodak carousel slide projectors, 35 mm colour slides, lenses, slide trays, timers, cotton screens, flying brackets and stands, 2 channel sound installation, CD player, amplifier, speakers
The background to this work is a continuing exploration into the film frame and its sculptural possibilities. At the time I had been working on a series of experimental films for my MA involving the recording of a repeated event from equidistant points around a circle where the event takes place at the centre of the circle. One such event featured a wooden stool falling over to the floor. See the image below:
From this work I started to explore a series of relationships between object, event, camera, space and time in which I isolated and compartmentalised the still frame positioning it in its own space. I wanted to make a final piece of work that was an expression of where the illusion of movement in cinema comes from, that was composed of intervals and frames but, crucially, one which opens up from this focal point to span the full extent of the ‘machinery’ of cinema and in doing so significantly alters the conventional ‘cinematic experience’. I gave myself the challenge of devising a piece of work that was essentially still in its functionality, where movement is generated by the spectator in both the physical and mental sense. On the one hand I wanted the work to be cinematic, I wanted it to generate the same effects as cinema does, whilst at the same time being distinctly un-cinematic in its method of operation.
Really the idea for my final piece of MA work came from simply pulling all the strands of my research together into the one place. Whilst its origins undoubtedly lie in what I had investigated on the course and what this revealed to me, it was crystalised by the space in which the work was situated. The piece started to take form when I was successful in negotiating sole occupancy of the Viaduct Theatre at Dean Clough in which to situate my MA piece. Dean Clough’s curators were exceptionally generous and co-operative with me throughout this process. The Viaduct Theatre is an ‘in-the-round’ style auditorium with a large, low stage situated in the middle of two tiered seating blocks.
It was whilst I was in the theatre taking in its atmosphere and its scale that I suddenly imagined myself throwing a stone across a wide, expansive river. I was thinking about the origins of movement in film but wanted this notion to fill the space I was in, to ignite it sculpturally and completely so that the space becomes the idea. This gave rise to the notion of the creation of speed, of acceleration from a still position into motion which the stone, in a state of release from the hand, suggests. Of vital importance to the eventual outcome of the work, I imagined the stone not only in flight across a river but in flight across the space of the theatre, and what really excited me was that, in addition to this, I also saw its flight across film strip, passing from frame through void into frame, this allowed me to see the idea as simultaneously existing as a work of film and as a work of sculpture. The river is symbolic of the void between frames, the place from which time and movement originate, it is a continuous interval separating two masses of land, two frames of celluloid.
It was the elasticity of scale connected to this idea that drove the realisation of it as a piece of work. Yes, I wanted my work to comment on the interrelationships between motion and stillness, discontinuity and continuity, time and duration in film but, just as importantly to me, I wanted the viewer to be the key provider of movement. The basis of the work then is the ‘lifting’ out of this idea and my visualisation of the place in which it is set, taken into the space of the theatre. Fundamental to this idea, the key to the work functioning sculpturally, is that it must be deployed using still ‘film’ frames in order to be completely faithful to the analogy I have just described. It is the re-realising and reassembly of the action from its place of origin to the place it occupied that was the driving force behind the work and which was my overriding concern throughout its production.