present, presentation, a presentation

Sandra Peters

The video present, presentation, a presentation is made up of two cycles of images, opening with a series of thirty-eight different images of featherwork made by Indigineous peoples of South America. The pictures of the featherworks are taken from the catalogue accompanying a 1994–95 exhibition at the Rautentrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne. The viewer first sees a feathered artifact in isolation against a black ground; the next image is subsequently projected on top of the one already on the screen, resulting in a superimposition of two views. The first picture then gradually fades out so that only the second one remains, until the next superimposition ensues. A brief pause intervenes between this first cycle of the film and the second, separating the two sequences. The screen is now taken up by shots of the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier. The technical arrangement of the image sequencing is the same as in the first segment. The total running time is twenty-five minutes. The film is silent.

There is no narrative or logical linkage between the featherwork on a black ground and the photographs of the colorfully illuminated nocturnal Ferris wheel. I nonetheless chose to collate the pictures in one work. Each motif has its own aesthetic aura and momentum, which interfuses and overlaps through the dynamic filmic presentation. In the catalogue, the feathered artifacts are showcased as isolated exhibits in perfect photographic reproductions; the sequencing in the film draws connections between the individual reproductions so as to engender an aesthetic coalescence between them that can be experienced as a transient superabundance. By contrast, the pictures of the computer-controlled light installation on the Ferris wheel are my own amateur photographs. Focusing on an object that constantly changes in time, they fix and isolate individual instants. In the film, these self-contained moments are woven together, prompting an aesthetic convergence that cannot be experienced in the real-world situation on the pier. There, the visitor confronts a visual spectacle that perpetuates itself through the ongoing excitation of the optic nerve.

The equal filmic treatment of utmost different motifs (feather works and Ferris wheel) entices the viewer to consider the similarity between them. Both have a luminous appearance, for example, and most of the feather works have rounded shapes like the patterns of light on the Ferris wheel. The two mirrored sequences of the video encourage this approach, but any attempt to reconcile the two distinct parallel realities remains inconclusive, open-ended, and ultimately beside the point. This finds its formal indication in the black phase in the middle of the video. What seems to suggest an analogy (by way of similarity) is designed to let analogy capsize into heterology, the acknowledgement of an awareness of an Other.

Online article

September 2020