Friday, 5 July 2013

George Barber: The present is becoming fatter and fatter ....

George came to speak to us about a number of his video works he had made since the 1980’s when he was involved with the influential Scratch Video Movement, he then introduced us to a range of his more recent video works.

The Scratch Video movement emerged in the Mid-1980’s and used fast cutting, found footage and multi-layed rhythm and sound techniques. It was seen as a form of outsider art as it opposed established expectations of what gallery video work and television broadcasting forms were at the time.

Barbers work from this period include Absence of Satan (1985) and Branson (1983) both of which appropriated footage from national television and american cinema in an attempt to reconsider ways in which widely circulated images could be viewed. The work was initially shown throughout Londons independent cinemas and some nightclubs. Later, being represented and contextualised in official art galleries spaces such as the ICA and Tate.

For Absence of Satan (1985) he described the way in which he had been given the opportunity to reedit B-list movies from Columbia Pictures. He attempted to condense the movies into short rhythmical video works in which the narrative would still be readable. This resulted in carefully editing, cutting and repeating frames so that the characters relationships and plot of the story would still be suggested. George spoke about how he had felt in opposition to works he had seen in galleries at this time, which were often long durational pieces. Instead, he wanted to create something that would be entertaining, colourful, fast, and rhythmical and works that wouldn't take a long time to watch.

The question arises as to where this work sits now. The age of the internet has meant that fast editing is easy and common, yet at the time these works were made they were seen as highly original and provocative. A lot of his later work still remains faithful to his earlier found footage techniques. He has used commercial television adverts (often from the United States) again overlaying sound and image which ask questions about how detached advertising has become from any reflection of our own current realities.

To see more of his video work visit: Here

                                          Absence of Satan, 1985, 6"00"

                                          Branson, 1983, 2"00"

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