Self referencing experimental video installation

With a continuing fascination in CCTV cameras and making videos about nothing, I decided to ditch an ongoing project involving a home made ROV (remotely operated vehicle), partly due to technical problems and partly because I wanted to create something specific to a particular space.
That space was the Main Gallery at Sheffield Hallam University.

Despite all attempts to be neutral, gallery spaces can never be so.
Upon entering such spaces
there is naturally the expectation that what lies within is all 'art'.

This can often lead to confusion with, for example, discarded crisp packets and faulty lighting mistaken as integral to the artwork.
I used to find this frustrating but now I tend to find it more amusing.

I guess that the issue lies in the all inclusiveness of post-modernity and the exclusive nature of galleries. I much prefer making work in real spaces away from the pseudo-neutrality of the art gallery and away from its' self referencial strangle hold.

With this in mind and with the obligation of taking part in a group show
as part of my Masters in Fine Art, I decided upon this work.

installation details

The piece consists of two small CCTV cameras mounted upside down on 180 degree panning units. Each camera was linked to its own video monitor. As the cameras slowly pans back and forth they display the rest of the space as well as the image caught by each other. The visual and audio feedback adds to the sense of unfamiliarity and dislocation already caused by the inverted cameras.

There is also a re-inversion as the camera pans across to see its own transmitted image on the monitors. The space becomes artificially corrected. A simulated restoration of normality.

Perhaps the most interesting effect of this piece is the audience reaction. Although, at first glance, everything is laid out in front of the viewer, the combination of camera movement, inversion and feedback, makes the space difficult to comprehend. The effect seems to be a shift away from the physical space to a more abstract representation of it. This suggests notions of the mutability of perception and perhaps reality.


© 2004 Paul Anders Johnson