Reading week

Back in the Cov studios today and it's strangely quiet due to reading week. Was aiming to round up a few more students to come along to next Thursday's In Conversation event with independent artist and curator Jason E. Bowman (24th Feb, 12noon GS11) but find myself instead in a deserted computer room.

I'm taking full advantage though and refreshing my video-editing skills. Just realised it has been 10 years - TEN YEARS - since I used Adobe Premier! That makes me feel old...

It's slow going, but I'm getting there. I'm using some documentary footage of a performance - or poetic rendition - I did as a collaboration with artist Alistair Grant at the end of last year called The Public is Absent by Echo & Narcissus. It's a project we hope to develop and it's fun revisiting it again now. Looks like the clip I've edited is going to take about an hour to render, so maybe it's time for a break. I'll leave you with an extract from Alistair's essay on The Public is Absent (that refers to my earlier piece of video work 2 into 1 [After Gillian Wearing]).

Two ‘performance art’ installations by other artists have informed this work by Echo & Narcissus. The first is a video installation by Caitlin Griffiths called 2-into-1. The video records a conversation between the artist and a man named George. In the course of the conversation it emerges that George, who has an indefinable, European-sounding accent, suffers from a rare condition called Foreign Accent Syndrome, which he developed following a severe stroke. As the conversation develops Caitlin Griffiths empathically relates George’s account of the onset of his condition to a story from her own past. The viewer feels that they are being allowed to eavesdrop on a very intimate, but familiar social scene, as George describes the Kafkaesque experience of realizing that he now speaks with what sounds like another person’s voice, the artist tries to assimilate his story into a frame of reference she can understand in terms of her own life experiences. Two people’s memories merge 2-into-1. Except, there is a twist. Following the conversation George and Caitlin’s voices are swapped and lip-synched on the video to make it appear as if each is speaking the other’s words. The intimacy of the conversation is redoubled in this exchange of voices. The role of the artist and interviewee, and the wider audience witnessing their social contract was thrown into uncertainty; or rather the unconscious uncertainty of their ‘agreed’ roles was made visible. The term social contract can describe both the social and emotional agreement between people, but also, in a classic sense used by philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, it describes how people give up sovereignty to a ruler, government, or other ‘higher’ authority in order to maintain an agreed social order through the rule of law. Either use of the term implies an unspoken, often unconscious, agreement by the governed upon the set of rules by which they are governed. The interview process often creates a quasi-therapeutic, official-seeming forum in which interviewees feel allowed to speak aloud, and to relive and recover (from?) strong, unresolved feelings in a given moment of cathexis.









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