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A Body Inside A Body Inside A Body Inside...

I've been messing around with short videos recently. I felt super inspired by Bruce Nauman's 'Clown Torture' (1987) (shown above) after stumbling across it online. The display of multiple different videos working with and against each other by all being played simultaneously, all trying to get your attention with their sound and imagery. I wanted to attempt to do something similar but with my own context. This birthed an installation idea, made of three different moving image components, consisting of straightforward sound and imagery, but (hopefully) all adding an extra voice to the discussion.

The first was a piece that developed out of experimenting with video and meat. I wanted to continue playing with how I could strip my practice back to its most basic form (as touched upon in my previous post). I wanted to develop from the sensual contexts of my 'Feely Meat' piece, which displayed multiple hands touching and stroking diced meat with sounds from a porn film layered over the top. I decided to take a more subtle and simple approach and see where it would take me, so I filmed a long continuous close-up of meat, the camera gently and slowly exploring the surface of the meat as if the audience were gazing upon it longingly. Continuing to be inspired by Mona Hatoum's 'Corps Etranger' and learning from the previous mistakes in work where I have shown bodily images in a rectangular format that have fallen flat, I decided to edit this video to have a circular frame. This concentrated the eye on smaller details, made the work feel more bodily and visceral, and pushed the sensual atmosphere. I also slowed the video down further to really push that sense of a slowly searching gaze. I was really pleased with how this turned out; although so simple, it worked really effectively. I feel that it makes us consider meat in further depths by taking time to look at it, connotations and feelings about the substance arise. It starts to make one be both repulsed and intrigued, much like most effective abject artwork or body horror film. In hindsight, I feel that this alone works well, and although it was fun to experiment further with the imagery, this viewed in silence (or with some thought-out accompanying sound) would be effective in a gallery space.

I went on to focus on this 'body inside a body' idea, which was born out of several creative writing exercises, but ultimately discusses the absurd nature of consuming meat when we are meat and the almost cannibalistic qualities of this. I wanted to display this idea visually by layering imagery as if an image was contained within another image, which would also be contained within a larger image, and so on. I tried this in a more analog way, displaying an image and then recording the display on a camera and repeating the process to make multiple layers. But I didn't think the process through particularly well, and it was a complete failure, with just the screen multiplied and not the image. So I went for a simpler approach, creating multiple layers in Adobe Premiere Pro. The first experiment was made with the video being played simultaneously and from the same point, which gave a strange optical illusion effect. The second experiment was made up of the same video, but each layer started from different points and was looped, creating more of a sense of separate meat bodies. At first, I thought the second experiment worked better. Still, the hypnotizing feel of the first one actually feels more true to the original material by building upon the idea of gaze. I built upon the work further by adding sound, which was a distorted recording of me reciting the Duke's monologue from William Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure'. I chose this text because it discussed man's fear of death despite its inevitability, which feels particularly relevant to my work, but also because of the unsatisfactory nature of the play, the ending of which is rushed and unfulfilling, which unintentionally reflects the qualities of life. Upon reflection, I don't feel that this was the right choice for the imagery and that this piece should have less sound so the audience can concentrate fully upon the visuals. The sound feels distracting and perhaps could have been better utilized in a different piece or even inspire the work title instead.

The next contribution towards this installation involves a sequence of clips capturing the more performative act of eating. This was inspired by an idea I had in between lockdowns of filming other people eating takeaways on drunk nights out, with them ravenously chowing down on various pieces of processed meat.


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