Reflection on Watched and Lacuna

Through the creative disciplines of performance and installation, projection and photography, how can we scrutinise acts of leisure and their paramount excess, probing intimacy and consent, in turn, heightening the seemingly unconscious act of voyeurism apparent in such?

I entered the this subject with minimal perception of where it was going to take me. Over the course of 12 weeks I have gained insight into historical and contemporary art, film and sound making practices which in turn has enriched my personal portfolio of work.

Quiet early on, my group had decided on a solid research question (see above), covering topics we all had interest in and exploring different mediums of film and art making, making our research and experimentation broad and exciting. Our final project is a collation of performance, installation and montage of found imagery and sound, exposing the modern voyeur. Consequently this uncovers issues surrounding modern leisure, intimacy and consent, particularly in a constantly online society.

Conceptually, our ideas were strong from the start but through weekly discussions and tasks in class we were able to uncover new ways of expressing them. Firstly through performance, we discussed the idea of the ‘fourth wall’ and it’s role in encouraging our innate voyeur by separating subject and viewer. By using the physical barrier of a computer screen, our performers on the other end distance themselves from us, creating a gap in communication and leaving a part of their inhibition aside. We as the viewer or voyeur are entering a private part of their life (their home, their leisure time) and this physical barrier has created the fourth wall effect in our performers head. Our role as the voyeur easily switches to performer as we show the subject our montage, exposing them as the voyeur. This obvious transition exemplifies how easily one becomes the spectator and how in our true form, we have an innate interest in observing others.

We have also experimented with projection and photography throughout working on our project. After our first task of creating a montage and later a discussion on mise-en-scene and artists like Christian Marclay, we went ahead and started compiling found footage of various vintage porn. Vintage was a deliberate choice as there is something more innocent and sincere in older pornography through the addition of storylines, considered costumes, lighting and mood that is generally absent from today’s pornography. Collating this as well as audio, clipping it and editing the montage highlighted some prevalent issues in pornography (and general society) such as racism, sexism and homophobia. We had to consider these aspects and how our project will represent our group’s values and revise our footage to make sure we were including more than just white-washed heterosexual pornography. When using our footage as an online installation piece, this was again reinforced when we deliberately showed a section of our footage and the account was banned (see week 10 post).

Through screening our experiment to a final audience, our conceptual ideas resurfaced again. We were exposing the ordinary internet user and how they may spend their leisure time, these people had been captured through webcam but the audience isn’t blind to the fact this happens in people’s homes more often than not. We engages three different parties of voyeurs throughout the film, although our footage was initially shocking to some, by only a minute in, most viewers in the audience sat back and watched like it was an episode of MasterChef. This truly emphasised how desensitised and oversaturated we have become with explicit imagery that it loses its shock value, encouraging our voyeur inside.

Overall, the process has been insightful in different art and film making practices, encouraging my own work to explore different mediums to the norm to expose conceptual ideas in a new light.

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