Stones and Bones (2007)

A written response to Becky Edmunds, Scott Smith and Gill Clarke’s multi-screen installation, Stones and Bones,  shown in London in December 2007.

Within Sergei Eisenstein’s writing on the practice of montage construction, he highlights the importance of ‘not so much the sequence of segments as their simultaneity.’ This issue was foregrounded in Stones and Bones (2007), a four screen video installation created by dance artist Gill Clarke, videographer Becky Edmunds and sound artist Scott Smith, which was shown at the Siobhan Davies Studios in London during December ‘07. The work comprises episodically distinct sections of movement material refracted across a close grouping of monitors, each set within the space at differing heights. This positioning served to emphasise the irregularity of screen size and image tone, drawing the eye into at times disruptive and unexpected collisions and configurations of movement patterning emerging from the spatial interrelation of each image.

Throughout the work, Edmunds’ extreme selectivity of focus fostered an aleatory and abstracted viewing engagement through the minimal disclosure of visual information. Four views of a head as it gently nods and shakes were presented as a quartet of defamiliarised and disembodied eyes. A ground-level camera positioning explored rhythmic repetition to overload, amplifying the effect of a floor-based rocking action on the crown of a head; a quartet of hands. Within the format of the work, a naturalistic two way conversation becomes a gestural canon, as the viewing eye tracks the passage of hand to hair in a downward migration from screen to screen. A view from a train window translates into a kinesthetically-oriented viewing experience with the hypnotic convergence of sleepers into motion blurred abstraction. The recognisably specific movement quality of disembodied hands, and the colour flash of crayon against white paper, reveals the level of physicality inherent of the act of drawing, calling attention to the relationship of the viewing mind and eye to the physicalisation of execution. Time and viewer input are required to make sense of a gradual emergence, which never seems fully to arrive, of the soft-edged pastel blur of near-abstracted body parts, isolated into tiny increments of fragmented motion. In addition, Smith’s soundscape, gradually building and receding at different points throughout the work. layered elements of ambient and non-diegetic input, reflecting the subtlety and minimalism of image and the non-linearity of the work as a whole.

Stan Brakhage stated that ‘as the eye moves, the body is in motion’. Stones and Bones engenders a strongly physicalised viewing response in its kinesthetically-oriented exploration of the commonality of experience existing between the viewer, the film-maker and the subject, exemplified within the work as the interrelationship between eye, hand and moving body.