I brought several DVDs and books to Finland with me, for research. Things I have been meaning to read or watch for a while but have not found or made the time. I am not doing so well with reading (apart from novels) but have been enjoying some of the DVDs.
Currently I am working my way through REWIND + PLAY, an anthology of early video art. Works that have stood out to me so far as being of interest include:
Eyebath, by Peter Anderson (1977): I had seen this before but it’s good to have a reminder of how simple video can be really effective and also that it’s not necessary to plaster words over everything or over-explain it, for it to be finished. It’s a video of an eye blinking but then the surface of the image is broken and ripples move across the image. You realise that it is in fact a reflection of an eye in water. To me it really evokes the sensation of having fluid dropped in your eye which as a glasses/ former contact lens wearer I am quite familiar with!
In the Home by Ian Breakwell (1980): this is a video I had not seen before and concerns a couple in a domestic setting talking to each other but their statements slightly missing each other or not quite making sense. They slip between love/hate, dominance/submission and possibly different time frames. It reminded me of Bruce Nauman’s work Violent Incident which is exhibited as a bank a bank of screens where a couple interact around a dinner table, having a meal but then ending up arguing and with some slap-stick like activities, including stabbing each other with a fork. The scenario on each screen plays out a slightly different way. In Breakwell’s video, the middle section of the video is the most abstract part of the video and I found this most interesting. The image on screen is the couple’s legs in bed under a blanket. Over this we hear a soundtrack of phrases that suggest (along with the image) possible sexual activity and power dynamics. What struck me about it was the collaging and overlaying of phrases in a semi-abstract way and the urge to search for meaning within this. It also reminded me of Samuel Beckett’s play ‘Not I‘ (well, at least the ‘Becket on Film‘ version of it that I have seen).