Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Susan Hiller at Tate Britain

Psi Girls

Psi Girls 1999 features imagery from films about girls with telekinetic powers, synchronised on five large screens at the moment of high tension in each film, when the girls use their extraordinary psychic powers to move objects. The excerpts, from Brian De Palma’s The Fury (1978), Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979), Mark L. Lester’s Firestarter (1984), Danny DeVito’s Matilda (1996) and Andrew Fleming’s The Craft (1996), are saturated in washes of vivid colour. The soundtrack featuring the drumming and rhythmic clapping of a gospel choir, reaches a crescendo at this point, a familiar cinematic device to increase tension, only to end abruptly with a burst of white noise and a period of silence. The use of different coloured filters in each of the projections, immerses the viewer in coloured lights and adds to the range of physical sensations experienced.

Psi Girls 1999
5 channel video projection with sound, synchronised
Duration 15 minutes

Magic Lantern

As a visual spectacle Magic Lantern 1987 explores the body’s instinctive response to colour. The scientific presentation of pure form and colour produces retinal after-images which are only visible subjectively; this effect is echoed in the sound element of the work. The artist’s vocal improvisations are interspersed with snatches of recordings by Latvian scientist Konstantine Raudive (1909–1974). He claimed to have identified ghostly voices in his recordings of the ‘silence’ in empty rooms. Both elements of Magic Lantern engage with the ambiguities of objective perception and subjective response.

Magic Lantern 1987
3 channel 35 mm slide projection with sound, synchronised
Duration 12 minutes

(text from exhibition Guide)

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