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A college project in which we were tasked with making an experimental short film based off a painting or piece of art. I chose the triptych portraiture of Francis Bacon, whose figures contort and shift across three variations of the same subject (see Three Studies of Isabelle Rawsthorne https://www.francis-bacon.com/life/family-friends-sitters/isabel-rawsthorne/three-studies-white).
My artist’s statement follows…
Three variations of the same person. Each one warping and shifting into an abstraction of the same figure. All recognisable, but all different. The notion of identity always resonated with me when viewing Francis Bacon’s art. His figures contorted and knotted, their faces bent out of shape, all typically ensnared within some form of cage or ‘space frame’. For my installation, I also sought to make a triptych. Three different scenes elaborating on the tenuous nature of identity. My theory is that we can never truly understand someone. We can only have an interpretation of a person, a projected image. An image that can bend and distort upon revelation. The three sequences I have created elaborate on different aspects of identity. In the sequence to the left, we see a woman’s reflection in a puddle. As she gazes to the viewer, the ocean washes over. The tide is perhaps the most impermanent thing on the planet, as it drags and washes away anything it grasps. Its shapes swirls and shift infinitum. Drops of water fall into the reflection, distorting the image, like an unsavoury discovery of a friend or lover would taint our impression (or image) of them.
The middle sequence shows a myriad of blurred figures, as a square, breaking and fusing, is imposed on them. The square derives from the motif of the ‘space frame’. Bacon used these to entomb his figures, as it represented the sense of restraint he felt from his severe asthma. In my installation, the frame represents the rigidity of our interpretation of a person. It is the confidence we have in knowing and familiarity. When the frame breaks, our realisation of that figure warps, and we discover something new. The frame restores and breaks for each figure and loops ad infinitum. As is the pattern of life.
The final sequence to the right depicts a family at a dinner table. As each family member rotates positions, they see themselves and their family out of focus, barely recognisable. This image is my interpretation of individualism. I believe that the individual is sacrosanct, when compared to the group identity. In this installation, each family member looks on at their group identity, who appear as homogeneous blurs, forfeiting their individual identity for a group singularity. As they open their mouths we hear only feedback, as often individuals in identitarian groups sacrifice their own sovereign voice for generic, ideological dogmas.