outside the box
are for your protection
the loop (by
wendy mcmurdo & paul holmes
one and Three Discs (after Kosuth)
study in motion and time
HD Video. Colour, sound.
The use of stress positions as an interrogation technique bordering on torture can be traced back to the Spanish Inquisition and before. In more recent times these methods were reportedly deployed in the defence of fundamental freedoms. And yet it can be argued that their use is a reflection of a greater erosion of those freedoms.
Artists in the 20th Century used photo-booths to create artworks and sometimes just to amuse themselves. But it is hard to attach that sense of levity to a photo-booth now, in an era when our likeness is so routinely scanned and captured in the name of our own security and freedom.
In the work, the artist assume poses in photo-‐booth snapshots that are redolent of the stress and torture positions that have been used on prisoners for hundreds of years.
Varying angles and sizes of shot are whisked in and out of frame by the repetitive sound of the heavy airport scanners that now so routinely violate our privacy. This persistent rhythm, and the balletic movement that the cut forces from the image, creates a kind of static choreographed performance, but one that only exists through the illusion of cinema.
The film is projected directly onto a white emulsion wall and looped, creating a relentless and claustrophobic sense of the trapping of our identity by this most everyday form of surveillance.
The work is reflected in a large mirror, inviting the viewer to observe him or herself watching and being watched, at once complicit in this surveillance, and also its target.
Dur: 2 min 22 secs, looped.
The work showed as part of "Outside the Box',
Paul Holmes's solo show, at Studio 21, Kolkata, June 2015; and in a retrospective of his video work at the Little Cinema International Film Festival, Theatre for Experiments in New Technologies, Kolkata December 2017.
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Website and all images and text, unless otherwise attributed, © 2020 Paul Holmes.