Friday, 14 January 2011

Interview with Alice Lea

Me: You seem to use low tec camera equipment in your films , do you think buy using such equipment there is any implication upon the viewer? And is this integral for your work/practice.?

Alice: The first time I used a video camera, I fainted, fell forward onto it and broke it, salvaging only the tape that contained footage of me doing so. I didn't use another camera for a while after, when I borrowed a very large and clunky one made in the late 1980s, the material captured I edited in Windows Movie Maker. The fuzzy and unbalanced frames began to work in favour of the meaning I was trying to create, leaving things a bit less clear and more implicit. This allows, I feel, the viewer to fill in the gaps themselves and to freely (albeit within a constructed framework) associate the images to form their own understanding of the video.

Me: You say that within your practice that you are concerned,

“with the relationship of order and disorder and creating via destruction, the work pushes the material to breaking point; and if beyond, more the better. Through found, un-traditional and problematic materials, the work endeavors for armature in its various forms and meanings, allowing video to be the “cast in bronze.”

It seems that the notion of the “the video being cast in bronze” could be integral to how your work/videoart could be ‘understood’, is this true?

Alice: Both video and sculpture have seemed the most appropriate for what I’ve attempted to say or to discuss in my work, and I have shown them together and separately depending on the theme. From this body of work that the quote is related, the deconstruction or construction of sculpture are what I found to be subjects for video. This is where the two mediums meet and are reliant upon one another, which was important for me as the maker and was a turning point for how I made two aspects of my practice cohesive. In terms of the material, the sculptures are raw and unrefined but what finishes them (destructively and productively) is how they are treated for the purpose of a recording. I aimed for this to be an underlying consideration of the work but it is not integral to how it is understood, rather the action or content in the video is what I hope to be pondered by the audience.

Me: As for Alice and Huw within your practice you seem to use a number of different mediums . What I have found interesting so far from interviewing Alice and Huw was the ways in which they went about presenting there video art against their other work. Huw said that to this point he had never used his videos in instillation as he claimed, “if a video is strong enough, it should be able to stand alone”. Where is your stance on this situation, have you or would you use your work in video installation or would you prefer you videos to be played separately? There is obviously an implication upon the viewer if the work is presented in either way, although which way do you feel suits your practice best?

Alice: I have made some videos for the purpose of installation and in combination with other work, whilst others are to be seen individually and unconnectedly. Previously I have made the mistake of overdoing a piece by superimposing a projection upon sculpture, weakening the overall impact, when the projection was enough in its own right. So there are some video works which should stand alone, and others that are part of a bigger piece- each is valid. A video shouldn’t be used as aesthetic jewellery, although this applies for any medium, if something is not working then it won’t be covered up.

Me: Within the interview with Huw Andrews I feel he arose quite a important question about the ‘understanding’ of video art within a space.

“ Video commands the viewer, there is a start, end and its experienced face on . It is dictatorial. With sculpture, the viewer generally chooses the duration and positions they use to experience it. I feel video should at least value and engage the viewers thoughts, as its more demanding; requiring a fixed period of time, concentration and plenty of surrounding space”.

I found what Huw has said here is extremely interesting and quite true. Knowing that you have also made a lot of sculpture in the past, do you think that your video art is a lot more demanding upon the viewer than any of your other works?

Alice:The curation of artwork affects how the viewer will respond to it, to how they connect with it, combined with their own tastes and interests as well. Specifically to video, there isn’t one way to describe how it can be engaged with due to the varying degrees of attention each style and montage demands; from the subliminal to Sky News for instance. Whether the video has music or dialogue, and how it is heard can also have an effect on the viewer. For example, headphones would allow the piece to be experienced by one or two individuals at a time, and requires some participation to use the equipment therefore, demanding more. Whereas hidden speakers transmitting the audio may compel only passive engagement. In contrast to video, I think an object on a white plinth can be dictatorial. Because of the roughness and unfamiliar appearances of some sculpture I have made, I imagine these could demand more from the viewer than some of my videos. So it really depends on each art piece and how it is presented, its medium does not predetermine its perception. In any case, I think a demanding artwork is a good thing and this is something to aim for when making and displaying.