AS SO CI ATIONS
an exhibition of film and video works curated by Tanya Leighton
20 November 2010 - 9 January 2011
The title of the exhibition comes from John Smith’s 1975 film ‘Associations’, in which an authoritative male voice reads a passage from Word Associations and Linguistic Theory by Herbert H. Clark. As the commentary progresses, images torn from magazines flash rapidly onto the screen, each depicting something seemingly unrelated to the voiceover. The effect is to highlight the slippery relationship between word and image.
AS SO CI ATIONS includes films, projections and installations with artists drawing on a wide variety of raw material from magazines and colour supplements to film theory and linguistics. Michael Snow stretches the definition of what film is in his 1982 film ‘So Is This’. Each shot is simply a single, tightly-framed word in white letters set against a black background that creates ‘a kind of moving concrete poetry’. Re-speaking, re-telling, re-combining words and moving images to transform reality in various ways, the works encourage visitors to reflect on the subversive potential of language in film and the boundaries between documentary and fiction.
Other works explore gaps in the relationship between language and history. Matthew Buckingham’s slide installation, ‘Definition’, re-presents the room in which Samuel Johnson wrote the first English dictionary to question how language evolves. ‘Symbionese Liberation Army’ (SLA) is an installation by Sharon Hayes in which the artist ‘respeaks’ the audio tapes Patty Hearst made following her kidnapping in 1974.