|Keran James ~ 20 july to 1 september 2003 |
| studio 1.1 |
|text | images | press|
| about |
|in order of appearance |
The works in Keran James' new show are much less to do with the cinema than might at first appear. Or rather, they are nothing to do with the physics or the metaphysics of cinema, and in particular they don't deal in any manipulation of its basic effects (slo-mo, split-screen, anyone?) Their ultimate concern in line with what may be termed his Romantic Conceptualism is the way in which the viewed screen, (whether of the cinema or television, either on or off), holds or withholds a human presence.
Immediately inside the gallery we pass through gaps in a floor-to-ceiling wooden screen cutting the space diagonally in two. Ahead of us on the wall there's a clue: the photograph of a replica of the Hollywood sign first erected by James in 1999 on an Oxfordshire hillside. Now we can see that the screen behind us is the same thing, or as much as this space allows: the letters HOL. Without any warning we're not in Kansas anymore.
“Back/Projection” is exactly not that. It is the view filmed in real time through the back window of a taxi driving into Manhattan. What we'd expect – two actors in the back of a cab mocked up in the studio, behind them a mostly obscured external shot filmed at a different time and place – is not there. Nothing obscures the view; background has become foreground. And as viewers we're in the position of Benjamin's Angel of History, propelled into a future that's hidden from us, facing only the unrolling vision of what we're leaving behind.
“Off/Screen - The Bar at the King's Arms, Poland Street” (revealingly subtitled 'Got to get you into my life') is a film of that popular gay bar on the evening of… A film of its reflection in a blank television screen high in a corner of the bar. Its darkness cut into by winking Xmas lights. We are all there, present as flickering shadows and a hubbub of voices fitfully penetrated by the jukebox’s music. The television is set at the exact height of the original and here in this new location, now switched on, plays from within the screen, what was then to be seen on its surface. What you see is what happened should you have found yourself in this pub on that night.
“Late Night/Satellite” works with the same material in a different way. Here it's a TV screen in a hotel room in Riga being filmed; the channel-hopping images separated by glimpses of the filmmaker himself reflected in the screen. The real ghost in the machine. Present in the remote control.
The title piece of the show “in order of appearance” is a work in progress, the beginning (and end) of a full-length film, a 90-minute cast list of actors in key roles, (whether large or small). As the credits roll, different memories are suggested to each of us, recognition of moments when a whole career, a whole performance, or maybe just a detail of one, made something happen on screen. Both an elegy and a celebration of the actor, the sometimes glorious human presence in film. Disappearing out of the frame as we watch.
and to all you others, the great, the near-great, the featured, the extras
who pass quickly and return in dreams saying your one or two lines,
Long may you illumine space with your marvellous appearances, delays
and enunciations, ….
….. the way the clouds come often at night
but the heavens operate on the star system. It is a divine precedent
you perpetuate! Roll on, reels of celluloid, as the great earth rolls on!
Frank O'Hara ‘To the Film Industry in Crisis’