It’s been an interesting few weeks.
Postgraduate RCA sculpture students visited to tell us about their practice, and then give tutorials. My tutorial with Luana Duvoisin Zanchi was really rewarding: the stop motion clip seemed to interest her, and reminded her of Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’, 2010, in the way it seemed to mark time, as well as Oliver Beer’s ‘Reanimation (Snow White), 2014, because of the way I’d reinterpreted original ciné frames to give them a new life. I’d never come across these before – they are fascinating as well as relevant!
‘The Clock’ is a spell-binding 24-hour long film montage that keeps time because all its scenes involve real-time references to actual time. It teems with the stories referenced by the films and characters Marclay has selected to fill his minutes, even though the clips are too small to tell more than fragments of narrative. You can see a clip here:
‘Reanimation (Snow White)’, which you can see here:
is also similar to the process I’ve been using with my images. Beer isolated the 500 frames of a 40 second scene from Disney’s ‘Snow White’, then persuaded 500 french school children to use tracings of these to reinvent the frames. He then reprinted their drawings onto film and reprojected the scene, filtered through the action and thinking of these children, using just their new images.
I am not doing exactly the same as these artists, but I’m playing with fragments of narrative, and traces of influence in a related way. Both these artists’ installations have strong narrative force that overrides new elements the artists have created, with the inexorable passage of 24 hours, and the force of an iconic near-universal fairy tale. My little clips do not. I wonder whether this matters? Should I impose a narrative? I am examining traces of story-making by taking my stories apart and playing with fragments that I have deliberately disconnected from any former meaning. I’m looking at our impulse to construct meaning, even when there is none. My stop motion clips interest me because they mimic the activity of story-making, but are actually only inexact copies of fragments of stories. Any sense of them having narrative is just constructed in the viewer’s head.
Flu has laid low most of our class. As a result, I had tutorials with three L6 tutors this week! They seem to agree that projecting my stop motion clips should be central to my degree show. The clips appear to have a conceptual energy that my paintings lack, however visually appealing the paintings might be. I have to find the best way to show the clips, and decide how to put them together, and need to see how other projected installations work. I hope to experiment with scales of projection too. It is unsettling to have spent so many months playing with sensual materials and surfaces, and making some images that I really like, only to turn away and give all my attention to technology. Like my tutor Robin, I get a headache if I spend too long with a projector… But only these clips seem to get near to the ideas that interest me.
So I’m setting up a production line. Here are time-lapse clips showing me printing,
and trimming and scanning,
to create the copied images that will go together to make new clips. This is dull, slow preparatory work compared with the fun of bringing them together with my iPhone stop motion app!
And here are my latest finished clips:
I’ve been projecting these in our studios’ black space. The more I look at them, the more difficult it is to decide whether it matters that I am not imposing or using a coherent narrative with them. My instinct at this stage is that I should let their uncertainty be more important, because it is the unreliability of memory and visible narrative that interests me. It is tempting to chase this issue, but finding an answer would be to pin down something that is all about imprecision and the viewer’s unseen action, and that feels wrong. I need to be patient, make more clips, and see what they do together.