Monthly Archives: February 2012




I discovered the work of Indian artist Charmi Gada Shah when she exhibited with us as part of Project India. After an initial chat I found that her work and mine carried similarities, both working with models and exploring the relationship between place and memory. Charmi often builds small scale models which depict elements of a space which were once present; her intricate and precise models serve as a memory of these now abandoned places. For ‘This is Now’, Project India, Charmi installed her piece ‘Still Life of a Landscape’, consisting of hundreds tiny handmade ceramic bricks which she uses to rebuild a small installation within a space. I spent some time with Charmi building up the bricks and also taking some footage of the scene created. The bricks had a wonderful individual quality to them, each one handmade and therefore seemly unique in exact colour and shape. Built together and slightly unstable the bricks display moments of fragility, parts of the wall would crumble in places adding to the scene as a physical ‘still life’. With the footage I captured I intended to make a new video piece working collaboratively with and in response to Charmi’s work as part of the ongoing nature of the project. I am not sure yet what this footage will become, if anything final, but I have plans to experiment further with it this year.

‘The revealing of hidden space within a building can also be found in the work of Charmi Gada Shah. A newly discovered secret staircase within floor boards of one room of Studio X, is exposed and houses the artists piece ‘Still Life of a Landscape’. This installation made up of hundreds of tiny handmade porcelain bricks depicts a miniature familiar landscape which encapsulates a sense of India’s deteriorating cities. Installed within the shadowy spaces of the staircase, the scale of this piece asks the viewer to interact spatially with the building as one must get down on their knees to view or even must descend the darkened staircase to engage with the piece fully, and to become transported to the fictionalised world Gada Shah is at the same time presenting us with. The piece explores both the architecture of the building within its site specific placing and also a sense of the imagined or remembered place which can haunt or equally become entwined within memory.’ 

An excerpt from a larger text I wrote, ‘A Sense of Place’, about the exhibition ‘This is Now’ which was part of Project India. Read more about the exhibition and artworks involved in the rest of the text here:

I was happy to hear last week that one of my favourite pieces of art (from 2010) has been jointly purchased by the Tate, this, excitedly, means that it is likely I will be able to view the piece again at some point in the near future. The artwork I am talking about is of course Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’.

I wrote about this artwork shortly after seeing it as part of the British Art Show 7 in Nottingham. Including themes very relevent to my practice I see this as a good opportunity to share the text I wrote here now (posted below).

But first a clip of the video work in question… This clip should only be played at 12.04 pm, local time, as it was intended by the artist to be viewed.
Christain Marclay ‘The Clock’. Time: 12.04 – 12.07pm

Lost in Time – Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’

Christian Marclay’s The Clock is a twenty four hour video installation made up entirely of thousands of moments from films which incorporate interaction with time. What makes this piece initially stunning is that it represents a real time video clock with most scenes featuring a time telling device which has been synchronized with real localised time. However the purpose of this piece doesn’t seem purely to be a cleverly constructed cinematic clock, this 24hour film explores further questions of the function of film, the cross over between art and cinema and how the audience experiences and engages with cinema.

One can easily submerge themselves into the dark space of the cinema and become lost; the disorienting effect of being in such space visually submerged into another time and place for a few hours can cause the affect of lost or confused time. Situated on a large screen in a dark viewing space, it too is easy to become lost in Christian Marclay’s The Clock. However by offering the audience an unusual constant reminder of real time from the various clocks, watches, and time references that are impossible to ignore, The Clock plays with the medium of film, its ability to distort realities and provide a stepping stone into fictional worlds for a duration of time.

This strange experience of real time synchronization merging with the fictional spaces inside the film allows the viewer to interact with the piece, engage and participate more fully as if able to project oneself into the screen. Separate cinematic moments are orchestrated together, a collision of various moods, characters and settings. However the viewer is confronted with a sense of the familiar, a familiarity associated with time and day to day activity, but also a sense of the strange familiar; the uncanny, closely affiliated within film itself.

I visit after work and around 6pm within the film characters are leaving work, running to catch trains, or preparing dinner, I too ponder going out in the cold, getting home and what to cook for dinner. Another visit during the 24 hour screening and it’s 4am dream sequences, nightmarish visions, disturbed sleep and sleepless nights leading into early 5am wake up calls, alarms, sunrises. Half the audience too seems to be falling asleep or in a dream like trance with the characters on screen, and the early morning disruptions snap me back into my own realty of again getting home and having to wake up in a few hours time. Although the viewer becomes lost in this illusory world it has a unique affect and almost becomes difficult to separate from the reality of real time and moment.

The theme of time itself is ever relevant in daily life, and especially within the medium of film were it can be, and often is playfully manipulated. Film makers have the ability to transform and play with the perception of time using devices such as duration, waiting and suspense, alongside fast forwards and flash backs. The carefully selected and edited clips of The Clock likewise explore this cinematic sense of time. Not all of the scenes in The Clock display the actual time but instead create an assumption of or reference to time. The viewer is confronted with time travel, races against time, waiting, and anticipation. Fragments of film are constructed together, held in place firmly by a carefully created cinematic soundtrack to create pockets of time moving continuously around the clock. Using these cinematic techniques Christian Marclay successfully engages the audience into the illusory world of film, with a twist of reality. As audience becomes lost within the work they are reminded, with an almost heightened awareness, of the ever ticking clock which marks out days, moments, years, duration.

Originally posted on my a-n interface page here:

Sugimoto Trylon Theatre, New York, 1976

“One night I had an idea while I was at the movies: to photograph the film itself. I tried to imagine photographing an entire feature film with my camera. I could already picture the projection screen making itself visible as a white rectangle. In my imagination, this would appear as a glowing, white rectangle; it would come forward from the projection surface and illuminate the entire theater. This idea struck me as being very interesting, mysterious, and even religious.”  – Hiroshi Sugimoto

Endless beautiful images of movie-theatres, auditoriums and drive-in movie screens, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s ‘Theatre’ series captures the aesthetics of the cinematic experience and fixation with the glowing screen. The images, all long exposures, taken for exactly the duration of the film showing, reflect upon the space of the cinema. Turning the viewing perspective inside-out, the video projection onto the screen becomes the only source of light which illuminates the room and causes the subject of the image to be focused upon the space rather the film showing. Through the long exposure of the film the captivating atmosphere of the cinematic space and experience is perfectly obtained in one still image.

I’m starting to write a series of short texts related to the theme of cinema and the screen (in relation to, and to put into context, my own piece ‘Cinema’). Examining artworks and films, ideas that emerge will hopefully both unpick and piece together my own research on this subject. I begin on a cheerful note with the film I watched on my most recent visit to the cinema – The Artist.

The Artist’s opening scene begins in a 1920s cinema; through the camera we view a grand packed-out theatre, the audience watching a silent black and white film playing on the screen. An orchestra within the scene soundtracks, both, the film playing in front of the audience on screen and now too the film itself we are watching. Although we sit in a cinema of almost a decade later, a little different to the one on screen, we too are now engaged in the world of the silent movie playing out in front of us and alike the audience on screen we are silenced. As a film made today but set in the silent film era it has the feeling of nostalgia about it, but also of celebration. A celebration of film reminding us of the magic of cinema, and in this film the play between moving image and sound completely captures this charm.

Midway through the film, in a dream sequence, sound is briefly and eerily introduced to the film.  Beginning with the noise of a glass clicking and ending with the voices of young females laughing on the street outside. Trapped inside his nightmare the lead character, surrounded by these noises, tries to speak; yet the sounds of his words do not emerge. The dream acts as premonition of, both, the development and future of film, and for the ‘artist’, and his own function as an actor of silent films, his fears of being left behind in the new cinematic world. This scene captures the way that film can cross between the boundaries of reality and fiction, merging past and future worlds. The essentially ‘real’ world to the audience is one featuring sound yet to the actor this is in fact a ‘dream’ world, nightmarish and strange, to the silent reality in which he resides.

The opening scene, George Valentin’s movie premières as the audience cheer on in complete silence.