12 March

$2 Plastic Love


Necessity is the mother of invention – no truer words have been said when trying to create high-end cinematic effects on little or no budget.

One evening, late in the studio, I decided to have a walk around the low-lit passages of the Gertrude Contemporary artists studios. Perhaps it was my recent revisiting of ‘The Shining’ that had given me an itch to create a low-pan tracking shot through the hallways, but either way, I knew that I wanted to create a light-hearted and playful exploratory work that would show the studios in a new light and alternative perspective.

So, I walked down to the local $2 shop and picked up a badly moulded, cheap, plastic, florescent truck and began to tape my camera to it. Having created this bizarre ad-hoc construction, there was something quite charming and exciting about this newly generated object. Something didactically exciting about seeing a very precise piece of recording equipment mounted on a cheap, mass-produced object by the crudest possible means.

As I stood back and admired this technological Frankenstein, I was reminded of Mark Leckey’s ‘Green Screen Refrigerator’ – an almost-declaration of love to the ready-made. As with most of Leckey’s work, what is apparent is a type of love, obsession and distraction with the image – a compulsive need to not only observe but to become immersed within it. And so I found myself wandering down this path, trying on the shoes of ‘Green Screen Refrigerator’ to see how it fitted.

In an attempt to immerse myself fully within this strange hybrid creature that I had created, I began to zoom further and further into the image, to the point of pixellation. But I couldn’t stop at that. I had been recently introduced to a piece of 3D modelling software and began to use it in a crude and heavy handed way. It was as though Hito Steyerl’s seminal essay ‘In defence of the poor image’ was pushing me onward, encouraging me to go to the absolute edge of replication and duplication, by means of the most consumer facing software and technology possible.

I’d like to say that was where the exploration stopped. Where I finally came up for air. But it was as though I was writing a digital love letter to my artist heroes. And so quite naturally, I felt the need to show my love of Ed Atkins’ work and in particular, his recent piece, ‘Warm, Warm, Warm, Spring Mouths’. And so I bagan to add yet another layer; a layer of text commenting not upon the object but on the viewer, in a desperate attempt to create a link between recent theoretical reading I had done relating to ‘The Sensible Stage: Staging and the Moving Image’. Then I took a deep breath, sat back and actually looked at what I had made.

The end product stared back at me. Not some seminal masterpiece, but a fanboy construction that was clearly going through an adolescent identity crisis. Maybe it was the product of a hot climate or the excitement of being in an environment where experimentation was unlimited, but in reflection, it felt like a release. A warm-up exercise to find a point of view, a clear line of enquiry.

And not all is lost. Perhaps there is something to take forward in this prosumer approach to filmmaking. Something that resonates with the honesty of the Dogme filmmaking technique or the exposure of the over-glamorised film industry.

The way I look at it is as an exercise in making, a delve into the dress-up box to see what works and what doesn’t.