This is an Edit/This is Real
18 minutes black and white 1974


Mental editing imposes itself on ‘real time’ information. You can’t always believe what you see.

“This formalized autobiography, strains the truth of the pictures on display, allowing the artist to present moments of his former and formative life, the house he was born in, the drama society he was part of, alongside live portraiture of a more intimate nature.

The voice-over is insistently detailed ("I was born in the room, second upper window from the left") but is rarely illustrative, the tape carries on a willful disjunction between what is spoken and what is seen. In so doing, it carries on a gentle deconstruction of the self, positing the documentary evidence on display as a series of poses or stances. Decentered and fragmented, the specificity of this medium, its ability to render moments of life is now turned against itself. "This is an edit of my back," the narrator drawls, while we watch instead a picture of his teenaged self (a self which is 'behind' him?) or a title which reads "This is an Edit."

Over and over he offers a double meaning. When he recites "Taken the year I was born" over a close-up of his naked torso, does he mean: born as an artist? Born again? Or is he simply sliding the words across the available space of representation, playing with his viewers, "just gaming" as Lyotard would put it?

The tape offers a series of playful variations on the two statements in the title, they appear with differing backgrounds, at different sizes, whole and in part, collaged with different images, or the same images, or with no images at all.

The artist appears in naked fragments throughout (I've got nothing to hide, he seems to proclaim, here I am) but nudity is not naked. Clearly referencing the dominant body art aesthetic of the early 70s, here the body is less a material for the examination of material limits, but a red herring (what does a close-up of a back or thigh tell you after all? Who can read these hieroglyphs?). The more we see, the less we know. There are statements which, in another videotape, in someone else’s movie, might be taken as confessional factoids (“I hate a display of emotion. I seldom cry… I fantasize a lot.”) but here serve as more material, more possible selves to inhabit. Or which in turn, inhabit us, naming us, labeling us, confining us within the strictures of naming, the viral closet of language.” (Mike Hoolboom)

Cast: Colin Campbell

Available from: Vtape
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