Analogue Recurring at Lo and Behold, London E2, 18th July 2014. Preliminary report.

The latest Analogue recurring event was held in a much larger space, round the corner from the usual venue in Swansfield Street. A packed house on a hot evening were treated to twin-screen 16mm films, preceded by some single screen work and a Super 8 installation by Mai Spring, a recent graduate in Fine Art from the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury. It is this work that I shall discuss, with further reports to follow on the rest of the work. Spring’s installation; Untitled (2014) uses the simplest and most basic means to create a film sculpture. In her use of marked clear leader, her work has something in common with Vicky Smith’s body of films, also made using clear 16mm.

In its original form Spring’s work consists of four elements; the film, a circular stone carving placed on the floor, a drawing and a book containing graphite-covered pages. All four elements are concerned with marking / mark-making (the work elides this distinction in interesting ways) and with the transfer, inadvertent or not, of marks from one surface to another. For example, the graphite in the book transfers itself to the fingers of the person handling it. Thereby marks migrate from one surface to another, creating new images, changing as they leave a trail of traces. The film consists of the loop with a hole punched in each frame. It is projected at three frames per second, well below the critical flicker threshold at which still images appear to move, but still an apparently quasi-moving image. (Derek Jarman used to show his S8 films at the same speed).

In the film-alone version, presented at Analogue Recurring, the image was projected onto a rough brick wall, such that the frame more or less covers the surface of a single brick. The slow projection speed is instrumental in creating the sense that the image not only modifies the appearance of the surface onto which it is projected, but fuses with that surface, creating a new third layer: at normal speed, the distinction between the moving image and the static projection surface would be arguably more visible.

Mai Spring 2

To put it in terms consistent with the account above, the forms within the film layer transfer to the wall, thereby modifying it. Similarly to some of Vicky Smith’s films, the image is less than nothing, an absence in a transparent medium (here for once the medium really is transparent!) But whereas Smith traces, from shot footage, recognisable forms into her clear celluloid, Spring simply punctures hers. The passage of light through these holes generate something out of nothing: an image made by the differences between refracted and unimpinged projected light, which becomes palpable in its luminosity. The projector contributes to the work, light leaking out of the lamp housing to create incidental projections onto the adjacent wall. It becomes in effect the physical fulcrum between the deliberate and the contingent, the intended and the accidental, the material and the ineffable.

Mai Spring 1