Thissurface

10:00 – 18:00, Thursday 19 March 2015

Lecture Theatre E002, Studio Theatre and Lethaby Gallery, Central Saint Martins, Granary Building, London N1C 4AA

This one-day symposium and screening event, followed by the launch of the newly installed‪ REWIND Videotheque ‬at the British Artists’ Film and Video Study Collection, is presented as part of Central Saint Martins’s Strangelove Moving Image Festival.

The 1970s and 1980s is a period sometimes characterised as marking a transition from modernist medium specificity to more diverse pluralistic forms of engagement in artists’ film and video in the UK. This symposium and screening event will trace practice and exhibition through these decades. It will range through the diverse practices of the 1970s, and the politicized early 1980s, with a focus on The New Pluralism (Tate 1986), which sought to survey work from first five years of that decade. It will further consider how notions of pluralism may be applied to artists’ moving image practice and exhibition in the 21st Century, in its many contemporary forms and contexts.‬‬

The day will include presentations by Stephen Partridge (University of Dundee), Patti Gaal-Holmes, and Sean Cubitt (Goldsmiths College), who along with CSM students from MRes Art: Moving Image have also curated special screening programmes of rarely seen works of British Video Art and Experimental Film from the 1970s and 1980s.

Now that’s what I call Pluralism!

Symposium
Lecture Theatre E002
10:00 – 16:30

Screening programmes
Studio Theatre 10:00 – 13:00

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see below for details

Symposium Programme

10:00 Registration and welcome

10:30 REWIND
Prof Stephen Partridge, University of Dundee
The REWIND project has re-mastered and archived an extensive amount of significant single-screen video and installation work from the 1970s and 1980s and published ‘REWIND|British Artists’ Video in the 1970s & 1980s’ (John Libbey Publishing, 2012). REWIND is providing a viewing facility for its collection in the form of a Videotheque, which will be installed in the British Artists’ Film and Video Study Collection for wider scholarly access. Prof Partridge will talk about REWIND and its approach to archiving, including extracts from a number of works.

Stephen Partridge is an artist and academic researcher. He is the principal investigator on the research project REWIND, which has been awarded successive grants in 2004, 2008 and 2011 from the AHRC. He was in the “landmark” video shows of the 1970s including The Video Show at the Serpentine in 1975, The Installation Show at the Tate Gallery in 1976. During the eighties he exhibited widely and also became interested in works for broadcast television, producing the innovative Television Interventions project for Channel 4. Recent collaborations with Elaine Shemilt include series of installation, digital print and etchings.

11:30 1970s Films: Images in Shadows And Light
Patti Gaal-Holmes
This presentation focuses on the rich diversity in 1970s British experimental filmmaking. It considers the ‘return to image’ thesis, demonstrating how this has problematically perpetuated a flawed account of the decade and overshadowed certain types of filmmaking over others. Broad aesthetic, theoretical and socio-political frameworks informing filmmaking will provide an understanding of how experimental filmmaking grew, from a handful of films and filmmakers at the start of the 1970s, to a veritable explosion of activity by the end of the decade.

Patti Gaal-Holmes was born in Johannesburg, South Africa to German and Hungarian immigrants. She lived/travelled in various countries before settling in England and studying for a BA Hons and AHRB-funded MA Painting at Winchester School of Art. In 2006 she took up an AHRC-funded research scholarship in film. Her doctoral research on ‘A History of 1970s Experimental Film: Britain’s Decade of Diversity’ is the subject of a forthcoming publication with Palgrave Macmillan (2015). Gaal-Holmes’ films have been screened at ICA, no.w.here, Tate Britain and King’s Place. She is Reviews Editor for the Routledge journal, Transnational Cinemas.

12:30 The Other Pluralism
Prof Sean Cubitt, Goldsmiths
The early 1980s were not just a time of class upheaval in the confrontation with Thatcherism in the wake of the Winter of Discontent. It was the time of Greenham, of the urban uprisings of 1981, and the New Romantics driving a revaluation of queer culture. Video became a powerful medium of protest, and of celebration, with works like Isaac Julien’s Who Killed Colin Roach and the Teenage Gay and Lesbian Project’s Framed Youth moved between the art and community video worlds, as the Miners campaign Tapes for once united film and video makers on a single project. This distinctive campaigning mode, with an aesthetic both drawing on and building communities, predated Nicholas Bourriaud’s relational aesthetics by decades, and invites a new archaeology.

Sean Cubitt is Professor of Film and Television at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of The Cinema Effect and co-editor of Relive: Media Art Histories, both published by the MIT Press.

13:30 Lunch break

14:30 Even the Good Times Were Bad: The New Pluralism Revisited
Screening
Students in the MRes Art: Moving Image pathway present a screening in response to The New Pluralism, a mid-decade survey of British film and video art held at the Tate Gallery in April 1985. Curators Michael O’Pray and Tina Keane selected nearly one hundred works for the exhibition in an ambitious attempt to map the pluralistic practices and politics that emerged as a reaction against the Structuralist aesthetic of 1970s British experimental film. Revisiting this exhibition as a moment rather than a movement, the students will reactivate some of these works within a contemporary critical framework. Works shown as part of this programme will include Kim Flitcroft and Sandra Goldbacher’s Scratch video supercut Night of a Thousand Eyes (1984) and Mark Wilcox’s surreal, proto-Lynchian videotape Calling the Shots (1984). They will also invite these artists to reflect on the moment of The New Pluralism and its legacy in British art and beyond.

Blue Monday Duvet Brothers (4 min, 1984)
Silent Film Michael Maziere (15 min 1982)
Scratch Free State George Barber (5 min, 1984)
Calling the Shots Mark Wilcox (12 min, 1984)
Visual Art Songs for the 80s (#2: Beatnik) Marty St. James & Anne Wilson (5 min, 1984)
Night of 1000 Eyes Kim Flitcroft & Sandra Goldbacher (28 min,1984)

The New Pluralism Revisited
Discussion chaired by Lucy Reynolds with invited speakers.
The screening will be followed by a discussion, which will examine the variety of conditions, forms, and contexts that have existed for exhibiting artists’ film and video exhibition from the 1970s into the 21st Century. What has changed and what remains the same? Is there a new pluralism in a practice that ranges widely across gallery space, cinema, broadcast television and online? Participants will include Jacqui Davies (co-founded Animate Projects and producer of Random Acts for Channel 4 Television), David Gryn (Artpojx and co-director Strangelove Moving Image Festival), Tina Keane (artist and co-curator New Pluralism 1985) and Duncan Reekie (co-founder of Exploding Cinema and author of Subversion: The Definitive History of Underground Cinema).

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Screening programmes
Studio Theatre 10:00 – 13:00

10:00 Breathings, Still Lives and Journeys
curated by Patti Gaal-Holmes
An eclectic range of films giving a taste of the diversity in 1970s filmmaking. Sherwin’s Breathing and Kelly’s Antepartum capture the quietly pensive pregnant beginnings of a world, while Okun’s tableaux of Still Life vibrates as fruits and vegetables are painted in negative with burnt-out shadows and blackened highlights; and Jarman’s meditative, sauntering frames record a Journey to Avebury in yellowed hue. In Farrer’s Ten Drawings he would say of film, ‘well – slash – I’ve dealt with beginning, middle and end in one go’ and in Breakwell’s deadpan Nine Jokes he quietly, but subversively, mocked the artworld seriousness of conceptual art. In Rayday Film Keen’s Mickey Mouse magus is the overseer of a disarrayed ritualistic, narrative disorder caught in frenetic rhythms, fire and an excess of images, often in double or triple superimposition. Lacey and Bruce provide timely instructions on How to Have a Bath inspired by post-World War austerity films, while Tait stalks elemental images of nature in her poetic reverie Aerial near her Orkney home; and in Piano Film Nicolson meanwhile plays us out on a derelict piano in which the keys have come loose and floated off.

Breathing (from Short Film Series) Guy Sherwin (3 mins, 1977)
Antepartum Mary Kelly (1.30min 1973)
Still Life Jenny Okun (6 min, 1976)
Journey to Avebury Derek Jarman (10 min, 1973)
Ten Drawings (2 of 10) Steven Farrer (4 min 1976)
Nine Jokes Ian Breakwell (8 min 1971)
Rayday Film Jeff Keen (13 min, 1976)
How to Have a Bath Bruce Lacey and Jill Bruce (17 min, 1971)
Aerial Margaret Tait (4 min, 1974)
Piano Film Annabel Nicolson (4 min, 1976)

11:00 Five Films by David Hall and Tony Sinden 1972 – 73
In 1972-73, David Hall and Tony Sinden collaborated on a series of films designed to explore the assumption shaping conventional film-making and the expectations underlying conventional film-viewing. Each of the resulting five films involves a specific consideration of the properties of the medium (e.g., framing, or deep space, or synchronous sound, etc) and they are perhaps best considered as a closely related group which, as a whole, invokes the various aspects of mainstream cinema to challenge the entire signifying system of narrative film.

View David Hall & Tony Sinden (10 min, 1972-3)
A fixed camera single take film, which explores a shift in perception from the screen surface as a physical area, to the illusion of three dimensions in a filmed image.

Actor David Hall & Tony Sinden (11 min, 1972-3)
An actor holds a conversation on a telephone, only his voice is heard. His monologue attempts to draw the audience across the time barrier between when the film was shot and when it is seen, gradually revealing the conversation as a hypothetical one with the audience themselves.

This Surface David Hall & Tony Sinden (11 min, 1972-3)
’The film utilises a traditionally seductive theatrical image at the outset which is subsequently redefined in the concrete terms of projection and screen. “..Initially a man is seen dancing in a pub with a pint of beer on his head. This is followed by a series of travelling shots along a seafront. The imagery and illusion of spatial depth are subsequently challenged by superimposed texts.. Essentially, a rearrangement of priorities…” DH, 1977.

Edge, David Hall & Tony Sinden (10 min, 1972-3)
‘An impending gunfight moves from a conventional confrontation to a confrontation with audience expectation as camera action predominates. A film in which the less you see of what you expect – the more there is exposed’.

Between David Hall & Tony Sinden (10 min, 1972-3)
Between is a highly-wrought piece of structuralism which makes no concessions to its audience… ..it implicates viewers in what is happening on the ’other side’ of the screen… and one is fully conscious of the role of the photographer. The camera is made to approach a lit screen in a viewing theatre before turning full circle to approach the projector… the trip was made only once, but the sequence is repeated by an intricate process using successive generations of prints – a print from a print etc… Here there is a progressive deterioration of ‘quality’ and the image breaks up into signs and symbols and finally into abstract fragments. What we have then is a clear case of art as truth through fabrication, with the imperative that the fabrication, the contrivance, must be revealed..’
Terry Measham, programme notes, David Hall: Works in Film, solo screening, Tate Gallery, 1974.

12:00 Work from the REWIND Archive
REWIND has been archiving and preserving early UK artists video work since 2004. For this screening REWIND has selected several works that highlight the diversity between artists creating medium specific works during the 1970s and 1980s to those who did not. Implied Statement by Mick Hartney and Trialogue by David Critchley both cleverly play on the idea of re-shooting and playing back previously recorded video. Tamara Krikorian’s Vanitas re-creates a traditional still life portrait but instead using video, which includes a monitor with contemporary news being played out in the background. Doppelgänger by Elaine Shemilt provides the transition to non-medium specificity, containing elements of both. The idea of the Doppelgänger, the double, is seen in the mirror in the piece and on the video monitor or screen it is played back on. Its feminist elements, on how the world views women, leads into Marion Urch’s An Introduction to Womanhood in the Modern World. The collage elements of Welsh’s I.O.D. and Goddard’s Celestial Light and Monstrous Races, both make good use of 80s video technology to convey their message but are not necessarily about video per se. Finally, Sentences 1, 2 and 3 by Stephen Partridge, with soundtrack by David Cunningham references the post fluxus word–play used by film artists such as Paul Sharits and Michael Snow.
Adam Lockhart

Implied Statement II Mick Hartney (5 mins, 1982)
Trialogue David Critchley (10 mins, 1977)
Vanitas (Original) Tamara Krikorian (8 mins, 1977)
Doppelgänger, Elaine Shemilt (9 mins, 1979-81)
An Introduction to Womanhood in the Modern World, Marion Urch (8 mins, 1979)
IOD, Jeremy Welsh (9mins, 1984)
Celestial Light and Monstrous Races Judith Goddard (5 mins, 1985)
Sentences x 3 Stephen Partridge (5 mins total, 1988)

REWIND Videotheque launch reception
18:00 Lethaby Gallery
The REWIND project has re-mastered and archived an extensive amount of significant single-screen video and installation work from the 1970s and 1980s, and published ‘REWIND|British Artists’ Video in the 1970s & 1980s’ (John Libbey Publishing, 2012). REWIND is providing a viewing facility for its collection in the form of a Videotheque, which will be installed in the British Artists’ Film and Video Study Collection for wider scholarly access.