Projecting Projection

by Sandra Gibson y Luis Recorder

(leer en castellano)

Untitled (Sandra Gibson y Luis Recorder)

Section 1: Projecting Projection

Luis Recorder: Our title Projecting Projection simply refers to a certain self-reflexive engagement in our aesthetic attunement that merely doubles up and/or refracts what is always already at hand but often missed or just simply taken for granted. In many of the following installation works, the object of projection is the act of projection itself.

1. Lightline

16mm modified film projector, 16mm color film, Plexiglas, variable dimensions (projected image: 8’ x 1.5’).

Luis Recorder: Lightline is a projected light or projected film installation in which the intermittent mechanism of a regular 16mm projector has been removed thereby allowing the filmstrip itself to slide uninterrupted through the gate.

Sandra Gibson: The size of the projected image is 8 feet vertical by 1 ½ feet in width; the projector sits on a plinth a few feet away from the wall. The verticality of the filmstrip’s passage during projection is the subject matter of this work, emphasized not only by the absence of intermittent motion which normally arrests the filmstrip into so many frames-per-second, but is further emphasized by placing a Plexiglas cylinder directly in front of the lens, thus elongating and stretching the possibilities of projected light beyond the upper and lower borders of the standard projected frame.

Luis Recorder: A 1600 foot reel from a found feature-length film was selected for this setup based purely for its cinematic composition of color and movement. The interaction of these ready-made properties through the cylindrical prism refracts our cinematic experience into analytical currents specific to the medium as well as currents that both literally and figuratively expand upon the narrow frame or aperture of medium specificity.

Sandra Gibson: The vertical color band, everchanging into multicolored strips, illuminates the bare walls of the gallery not only to shed light on our immediate surroundings but to unmask the mask of the cinematic apparatus that struggles ever so precariously in its persistence of vision - a specific cut or carving so as to take hold and fix our attention. Lightline pries open this cutting, in which the line of light makes its incision, a cross-cut, a light scratch upon our line of sight.

2. Diffraction Apparatus for Magenta Film

16mm modified film projector, 16mm color (faded magenta) film, 2 rpm display unit, crystal glass, variable dimensions (projected image: 4’ x 4’).

Luis Recorder: Diffraction Apparatus for Magenta Film is a projected light work for faded color film projected through a rotating crystal glass object. The dimensions of the projected image is variable and can be projected on a wall, as pictured here, or on a double-sided translucent screen in which viewers can approach the work from the side of the diffraction apparatus and/or the side of the projected abstract light play.

Sandra Gibson: The crystal rotates at 2 rpm. The consistent and repetitive rhythm of the mechanical ensemble of projector and rotating unit is continuously broken up, interrupted, and thus rendered somewhat spontaneous and unpredictable via the minimal and erratic shifts of light, color, and movement in the magenta celluloid – a 1600 foot reel from a feature length film.

Luis Recorder: In this work, we are interested in addressing a certain optical materialism of the projection event itself that not only focuses on the lens but on the interaction of shuttered light, celluloid, and the concave/convex glass elements. The throw of light is shot-through a series of optical relays to scatter, bend, and redirect a continuously mobile cinematic pliability.

Spectral plasticity in Diffraction Apparatus for Magenta Film hovers in the infinite ricochet of a glassed-in light chamber.

3. Loop

16mm film projector, 35 mm film, electric fan, variable dimensions (projected image: 1.3’ x 1.8’)

Sandra Gibson: An empty film projector illuminates a hanging strip of film set a few inches away from the gallery wall; an electric fan provides an upwards, spiraling, current of invisible air. The illuminated rectangle catches the film like some playful filmic game.

Luis Recorder: Loop is an installation work that aspires to address “projection performance” – the general topic of our panel. Does projection performance necessarily require a facilitating “performer”? Or is a modicum of the so-called performative built into the medium itself? We could venture to say, that perhaps there is a demand that film become performative of, let’s say, its materiality and perhaps even its vulnerability.

Sandra Gibson: Thus we can say that film projection exceeds the limits of its concept as a mere functional mechanism for the mechanical performance of cinematic works. A concept of “projection performance” is, therefore, inherent to the medium which “performs” not only the negation of its mediation and subordination to the celluloid material, but also its resistance as a passive carrier. Projection projects its ambivalence to the material, intermittently hesitating between its slavish animation of a dead object and its absolute indifference as to whether the object is already dead or missing.

Luis Recorder: To perform the already performed is to raise this element of resistance to a second-degree awareness. In light of this awareness, the concept of projection performance becomes a tautological concept in which “performance” doubles and thus foregrounds the specific functioning of the projective apparatus.

4. Untitled

16mm film projector, 16mm color film, three electric humidifiers, Plexiglas, wood, variable dimensions (projected image: 2.1’ x 2.9’)

Sandra Gibson: Untitled is a work that has evolved from our experience as projection performance artists. In particular, our experience of working in the projection booth in the cinema theater. The elements of this installation make use of projected light and humidification on glass in order to call attention to the multi-layered perspective of the projectionist.

Luis Recorder: The displacement of these various elements of the cinematic apparatus on the gallery floor demonstrates the composite and even scattered nature of the medium. Three electric humidifiers continuously dissolve, saturate, and thus rework the image.

Sandra Gibson: The cinema is not an illusion that takes place before an audience glued to a two-dimensional spectacle but a material field unfolding as processes and forever dissolving (but not collapsing) into an immaterial void.

5. Light Years

16mm film projector,16mm film reel, projector stand, silver screen, variable dimensions.

Luis Recorder: Light Years collapses the basic elements of film projection and screen. This work projects itself at 24 frames per second, which is visible in the perforated spaces of a spinning reel. Endlessly on rewind mode…

This piece can be considered a form of kinetic sculpture.

6. Crawl

Two 16mm film projectors, 16mm black film, mixed media, 7.8’ x 2.7’ x 1.6’

Sandra Gibson: This work, like Light Years, collapses the variables of the cinematic materials. This is cinema up against the wall. The filmstrip as a moving screen. Crawling it’s way up the surface of the wall. No projection light. Anti-cinema. Crawl uses black leader film which is opaque and not condusive to light passing through. This work requires that the gallery space be illuminated with artifical light.

7. Encore

16mm white film, 16mm film reel, white aluminum plinth, 2 rpm

Luis Recorder: A film reel silently unwinds itself and accumulates on the floor of the gallery. At the end of the film, the reel is replaced… This piece is a form projection-less cinema and yet address projection. Encore is a durational work – Unspooling at 2 revolutions per minute. An 800 foot reel of film which would normally take 24 minutes to unspool, is here stretched out to over 3 hours.

Sandra Gibson: A kind of structural unfurling. Unfolding, unreeling, unwinding... Aside from its cinematic tradition we are thinking of other art forms like Process art and Conceptual art.

8. Light Spill

16mm modified film projector, 16mm film, variable dimensions.

Luis Recorder: A projector in a room spills the contents of a film reel onto the floor. After the film ends the visitor is advised to check with the gallery attendant to rethread the projector with a full reel of film. For the interval in which there is no visitor the projector remains running with the lamp on until there is a reel change. Over the course of the exhibition there emerges an uncontrollable growing heap of celluloid flooding the gallery’s floor.

Section 2: Light Spill

Read at next slide (with projectionist – 3 women):

Light Spill is a film installation that we conceived in 2005. Here you see the installation in a conventional gallery setting. Everything about the film experience is preserved: projector, film, and even a full-time projectionist. What is missing, however, is the take-up reel. Over the course of the exhibition – in this case one month – the pile of celluloid accumulates on the gallery floor. The original idea for Light Spill was to expose the materiality of film and perhaps tap into cinema’s performative and even sculptural potential. As artists, we generally tend to work at this level of the material in what is currently described as “expanded cinema.”

Read at Timeline:

This is a list of venues that have exhibited Light Spill. The durations for each show are typically one month, with some exceptions such as Union Docs in Brooklyn, NY which lasted several hours and Tent. in Rotterdam, The Netherlands which ran for three months. Conceived of as an ongoing "open archive," the artwork seeks to foster a collaborative approach with the exhibition venue. In installing Light Spill we require that the exhibition venue supply all the elements of the work, including the film. Each of these venues have tapped into their local resources to unearth a plethora of decommissioned, abandoned, and orphaned celluloid. We will briefly sift through some of the more revealing sources.

Read at Janalyn Hanson White Gallery:

Here you see the first exhibition of Light Spill. The films, mostly educationals and documentaries, were supplied by Mount Mercy Library as they were deemed “obsolete,” according to the gallery curator. After the exhibition most of the film was either discarded, though some of it was used during a hands-on film direct animation workshop at the college. A few unused reels were shipped to us to be reused for other art projects.

Read at Tent.:

All of the film for this exhibition Light Spill was supplied by a local lab in Amsterdam. The material was entirely negative film which gave a nice quality to the pile of film, referred to by one critic for Le Monde as “glistening as algae.”

Read at Images Festival:

The film here was supplied by various local recourses, including: Niagra Film Labs, Lift, and Canadian Film Distribution Center.

Read at Robischon Gallery:

The film for this exhibition was supplied by University of Colorado at Boulder and “slug” film from Cinemalab in Denver. Some of the film after deinstallation was given to a local Denver artist Terry Maker whose work we will show at the end of our talk.

Read at Kunst Walcheturm:

For this piece, all the film was donated by a local sound museum in Zurich. The films were decommissioned as they had multiple copies. They were part of a television series on regional folk music. The curious feature being that there was no soundtrack.

Read at Solar Gallery:

This is one of the few exhibitions were we sent the film as the gallery attempted to locate material to no avail. All the film for this was donated to us by Virginia Film Festival director Richard Herskowitz who received them from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. These were all three-reeler feature films that had vinegar syndrome.

Read at MuHKA:

The most recent version of Light Spill was included as part of an exhibition called Graphology which had to do with the “automatic writing” and self-inscription of the machine itself. In this case color negative film was used.

Read as Re-purpose:

As mentioned previously, at the end of the Robischon gallery exhibition Denver artist Terry Maker used some of the film for her mixed media artwork, embedding the celluloid in plaster. Here she used a text by William Blake titled “Little Fly.”

This is a sketch of an installation by Canadian filmmaker Alex McKenzie. The piece is a homage to Light Spill and is titled: ACCUMULATION (in correspondence with Luis and Sandra) OR (after Luis and Sandra).

This final slide is a newer work, Vehicular Circular, which incorporates footage from a driver’s ed film from the Mount Mercy show. We selected two shots and made two 400ft films which allow us to make loops for the installation.


Section 3: Demo

Section 4: Projector Performance

Section 5: Aberration or Untitled

Barcelona, 5 November 2011.