Film and its definition have often been explored and the works that do so have frequently be defined as ‘Expanded Cinema’. Now, an exhibition curated by film artist Guy Sherwin, seeks to explore what defines film and how we perceive it.
The exhibition features a changing program of main pieces, with the last section of the exhibition’s timetable showing works by Louisa Fairclough and Chris Welsby. The piece by Lousia Fairclough entitled Song of Grief at first seems basic, but therein lies the powerful nature of the work. Two projectors face each other, whilst the reel of film attached to each is hung from the ceiling. The projectors then beam lights, which display the shadows of the film reel. It is then, when you are absorbed in the work, that the quiet becomes disrupted with a loud disturbing scream. This scream combined with the visual simplicity and the silence at first, makes Song of Grief a very affecting piece.
Besides the changing program of pieces there are other works on show. In the first room, a piece that deserves particular attention is Steve Farrer’s installation comprising of a 16mm film projection and six contact sheets. This work makes the viewer explore the interdisciplinary possibilities of drawing when applied to film. The contact sheets in black and white force comparisons with the zoomed in projected drawing.
…animated colour blocks the size of the glass panes…
Whilst the majority of works in galleries 1 and 2 contain colour, in gallery 3 the exploration of colour in film reaches an apex. In this gallery, alongside works by Guy Sherwin and Nicky Hamlyn, is a work by Simon Payne specially commissioned for the space. Entitled Window Piece, the work is projected over a blocked window. Payne has animated colour blocks the size of the glass panes, making a video animation mimicking stained glass. The animation edits that Payne uses creates a fast paced video work, in which blocks of colour change and move in the window.
The exhibition not only shows filmic works together, but displays them in a way that promotes questions about the nature of film. Most of the works shown in the exhibition use 16mm film, but the projectors they use are not hidden; instead they fill the physical space of each room. The viewer, therefore, encounters the projectors as sculptural objects, and indeed, the title of the exhibition ‘Film in Space’ suggests a physical or sculptural quality to the show. Each room is filled with film reels, projectors and their sound; this allows the viewer to experience and confront the mechanics of film and not just the film work.
…a mechanical and perceptual sense…
A documentary film by Lynn Loo, also gives the viewer an opportunity to assess all of the qualities that film possesses. The documentary records the event of showing a film. This makes the statement that showing film and watching film is itself an event.
This exhibition is not just a collection of films belonging to the ‘Expanded Cinema’ genre, though that would make the show worth viewing on its own. Instead the show is also curated in a manner that allows the viewer to contemplate what it is to watch film, in both a mechanical and perceptual sense.
Film in Space at is Camden Arts Centre until 24 February