Thursday, 28 July 2016

Film and Painting / Action and Object

Keywords: Performance / Object / Context / Time

As I continue to develop work using multiple screens and explore engaging the viewer as active participant I am aware my work clearly falls into the categorisation of Expanded Cinema. For me the label of expanded cinema implies the historic lineage of the work is film/cinema, also that the normal boundaries of passive spectator and screen have in someway been subverted. 

However I still feel the starting point for my work is not the moving image of cinema but the static image of painting. Taking my abstract and then more representational drawings and animating them I see myself logically processing the ideas of action painting begun decades ago.

'In Pollock there is the suggestion that the artefact could be replaced by action in 'real time', a suggestion that would be taken up a decade later in the work of an entire generation of conceptual, performace and process artists who believed that the tribal experience of real-time art was the key to overcoming the deadening effect of the bourgeois art object'
Peter Halley - Nature and Culture - 1983

However I do not fully share the idea put forward here that the art object always represents a symbol of bourgeois authority. Performance art, Expanded Cinema, Happenings etc.. all  run the risk of becoming contained structures supporting social hierarchies. After any 'event' it becomes conceptual object, which through documentation (this could be written, photographed, videoed or also verbally relayed) is susceptible to mythologisation and elitism. In some ways less tangible modes of artistic discourse are more at risk of mythologisation because direct experience of them is held by only a few, therefore we are forced to reassess the works impact, meaning, etc through a secondary lens. With traditional art objects such as painting and photography the object remains that we may encounter it through our own eyes and draw our own conclusions. Albeit from a different temporal and contextual viewpoint.  

Artist Liz Rhodes addresses these concerns in her essay 'Unfolding a Tale: On the Impossibility of Recovering the Original Meaning. 

'The continuation  of an idea is impossible, only a rendering of it. Within reproduction, modification takes place. Initial intention is fading fast. Its intrinsic purpose may have become irrelevant, incomprehensible, hence ideas may be modified or lost within or without repetition...
The continuation of the fact - of a thing performed or done - is in fact a facsimile or a re-make, a fiction, if you like, which may often be novel but is always a mock event. The continuation is an imitation. The paradox is that images 'here', although the same as they were 'there', cannot be displayed, repeated or repeat themselves in order for us to know the original. The images remain but the intention is irretrievable.'
Liz Rhodes - Expanded Cinema: Art, Performance, Film. - p221-222 - 2011 

When considering an 'art object' one might think of a painting, photograph, sculpture or other such physical object, but what of the film screen? in my projectons the hung paper screen is vital to the agency of the work, is this then an art object? and if so does it only continue to be so during the screening of the work? In 'The matter of illusionism' Kate Mondloch describes the screen as 'a curiously ambivalent object - simultaneously a material object and a virtual window; it is altogether an object which, when deployed in spatialised sculptural configurations, resists facile categorisation.'
Kate Mondloch - The matter of illusionism - 2000
Founders of the 'Museum of Non Participation' Karen Mirsa and Brad Butler have a nuanced view of the validity of the art object in their practice.

'We do not completely disavow art objects, but are driven to dislodge them from their central position within the field of art... We choose to look past the art object and relate to the etymology of “object,” from the Latin obicere, meaning to present, oppose, or cast or throw in the way of. We explore obicere through multiple, ephemeral processes: artworks as well as events and actions that neither we as artists nor museums possess through sole authorship. In a similar vein, we see “collecting” as not merely assembling objects, but as an act that assembles and ushers forth action and agency and does so through disruption. Our own practice involves presenting work that is hard for the art market to reconcile or redistribute. In this way The Museum of Non Participation aligns itself with conceptual art and the legacy of the dematerialized art object.' 
Mirza and Butler -

I also do not see myself as subverting the relationship between film screen and viewer, for me it is the relationship between canvas and viewer that I am reconsidering. This may be evident in my choice of paper as screen. It is the viewers expectations of gallery and site specific spaces not the cinema which I am primarily interested in questioning. 

I continue to contextually explore the lineage of Expanded cinema and draw inspiration from artists such as Mersa and Butler, Liz Rhodes, Guy shewin, Chris Welsby, Mary Stark and more. Contextually I see my work existing in a limbo between the moving and static image, between the need to show time or imply it. 

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