Monday, 29 December 2008

The Full Moon Series

The Full Moon series is a fitting title for Renee Lear’s on-going Lighthouse work. All viewers can relate to Lear’s professed love of the “magical moment ”: when something - a sound, a ray of light, a smell - stops us physically and temporally and we feel our hearts squeeze at the exquisite moment.
The cool temperatures make it difficult to see the three hours of live video-mixing from 8 to 11 pm on November 13, 2008 but passersby and friends stick it out for the time they can. The work does not contain a narrative therefore staying for the whole projection is not really necessary. Its ephemeral quality allows the pedestrian to catch a glimpse and carry away a feeling of wonder in all senses of the word.
With a contemporary twist of live video mixing projected onto a screen in a first-floor window, Lear takes back up the on-going issue of abstraction versus representation. The shifting layered images constantly disrupt the viewer’s sense of perspective. The projection shifts repeatedly from an image on a flat surface to one with perspective with a fore-, mid- and background then changes again to what appears to be only a silhouette of what is happening within the apartment, that is to say, the screen appears to revert back to a window to look through to see the art behind.
The piece is structured into segments that could be viewed individually or as a whole. In one segment, the image of the artist’s ghost-like hands can be seen shifting, fixing, and placing small glass squares. In another section, the image of a man can be glimpsed sporadically in a shifting field of light and shapes. In all the segments, the hint of representation tugs at our human desire to recognize and understand. Lear never fully allows us this. She teases us with flashes of recognizable shapes within abstract images and leaves us wanting for answers.
Whether this unfulfilled desire to understand is considered successful or not is subjective. I would argue it positively as she forces us to abandon for a moment our desire to understand, classifying and thereby control in a world too full of classification and control. My question would be, “do we always need to understand in order to judge?” A Kensington market pedestrian may have thought so when he asked, “What is it? Oh well, tell me if you have figured it out when I pass back.”
Obviously aware of this conflict, Lear deliberately incorporates the street into her performance. Two whistling friends sit on the step below the projection to catch the attention of those who move quickly through the world. The viewer’s response is as much part of the artwork as the video itself. Sitting on a pile of cardboard on the curb for recycling, I find watching pedestrians’ responses as fascinating as the video itself.