Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Rodney Graham

Torqued Chandelier, 2004
35 mm Film Loop, 5 minutes
Viewed at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, as part of the Rieck Halle, Flick Collection

'A crystal chandelier with 12 electric lights was suspended from the ceiling of a film studio from a wire cable. The cable was twisted a hundred or so times, then released allowing it to unwind as the chandelier spun back and forth, eventually coming to rest. The process was documented by a 35 mm camera, placed on its side and shooting one 1000 foot roll of film at 48 frames per second (twice the normal speed). For playback a special projector was manufactured--one which was not only capable of projecting at 48 frames per second, but which also turned the image around 90 degrees into a vertical orientation (the projector is also on its side)

Initially the work was inspired by a description of Sir Isaac Newton's famous experiment with a bucket full of water (hung from a rope which was wound up, then released. As it spun out, the observed relations between the behavior of the spinning bucket and that of the water within it led to conclusions about absolute and relative motion). Issues pertaining to Newtonian gravity and rest vis a vis large and rapidly moving lighting fixtures were graphically brought to my attention at a young age when I witnessed, while viewing the 1952 film Scaramouche, the near-impalement of Stewart Granger by means of a falling chandelier, but the work also continues themes implicit in my two other short films Coruscating Cinnamon Granules (1996) and Two Generators (1984) both of which are conceived as illustrated 'thought experiments' documenting transitory lighting events within the context of a single roll of film.

For Torqued Chandelier Release I chose to the vertical format as appropriate to the shape and vertical orientation of the chandelier (and thus providing more visual information of the subject itself, which is larger in the frame), and because I thought it was interesting to explore a 'portrait' rather than 'landscape' oriented cinema. The film is shot at and played back at 48 frames a second, again to offer the eye more information than a normal film could provide, and to avoid the strobing that would occur when such a subject matter is shot at a mere 24 frames per second.'

Rodney Graham
April 2005

- Artist Statement, Donald Young website

I found this artwork interesting and relevant to the current device I am working on, for its use of a spinning and unwinding subject matter, whilst also incorporating an interesting use of film loop. I shall research further into Sir Isaac Newtons absolute and relative motion theory, in order to refine my filming device.

Reading further about Rodney Graham's film work, I came across the exhibition HF | RG which brought together the work of Harun Farocki and Rodney Graham, at the Jeu de Paume Gallery in Paris in 2009. The exhibition presented film-based installations categorised under four themes: the archive, the nonverbal, the machine (and devices) and editing. The following films involve descriptions from the curator, Chantal Pontbriand, and both artists.

Chantal Pontbriand, curator : Interview

Harun Farocki | Rodney Graham : Interview

I am particularly interested in the following artwork which featured in the HF | RG exhibition:

Coruscating Cinnamon Granules
16 mm Film Loop, 3 minute

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