21 March – 18 April 2009
Screen punctuates the space in two locations, successfully disrupting the gallery on both floors. This interruption becomes a tool by which the viewer’s experience of the installation is manipulated. Partial views and glimpses are provided, encouraging the viewer to build upon these fragments to create their own imagined scene. Multiple frames and view points are exploited within the space, which creates a setting of the scene.
The mise en scene concept, whose origin lies within film and theatre, encompasses all components staged within a space and the manner with which they are composed. By creating specific frames, which limit the extent to which the work can be viewed, Screen permits the use of many other aspects associated with mise en scene, such as perspective, depth of field, angle, focus and point of view.
Through the employment of these techniques, the work embodies theatrical connotations that are reiterated within the three spaces formed by the installation. On entering the gallery, the viewer is met by a blockade preventing a passage or clear view to the lower floor. As a result, this area is transformed into an isolated viewing platform, and the audience a voyeur. On the lower level the audiences role changes from the onlooker to the over looked as they become encompassed within the mise en scene. The third aspect of the space reveals the construction of the work; the ‘behind the scenes’. Both audience and works find themselves simultaneously obscured and exposed from each other’s presence.
Landscape plays an important role within Screen, providing the quintessential backdrop within the scene. Despite the romantic and utopian connotations associated with landscape, its repeated use as an image has rendered the notion disposable. This expendability is echoed within the forms of both structures – by their very nature as backdrops or screens, they slip into obscurity and exist as temporary, inconsequential items.
The relationship between image and object is an intrinsic element within James’ practice. The works play with an oscillation between the two and three dimensional, consistently undermining and challenging one another. The block print used within Screen can be interpreted as a reductionist symbol of a mountain, represented as both a whole and an outline. This dichotomy between the two forms creates an uneasy sense of perspective that is again reiterated within the overall image represented.