Recently I have been experimenting with performance, with this primarily revolving around interaction with sculptural objects that I have made. The following videos document my attempts at ‘eye contact’ with the camera – something I wanted to try as all of my films thus far have used a similarly straightforward layout of myself and whatever object moving within a wide frame, never acknowledging the camera/viewer.
I found this venture surprisingly difficult.
The above shows me, looking into the camera with my head rested on one of my objects. This was an attempt at easing myself into it, having my polystyrene friend acting as physical and mental support. More than anything, I just look a bit pissed off.
For this video, I ventured out alone and moved the polystyrene object away. This was actually really difficult to film because the camera was sitting slightly higher than me and backing onto windows, which meant that I was looking almost directly at bright sunlight. I was trying very hard, although you may not be able to tell, to keep a neutral face and not squint, as I didn’t want to look too severe. Whilst attempting this, I actually started crying as the light caused my eyes to tear up.
So I’ve ended up with this weird film, where I just look really pissed off and then start crying. I don’t really know what I was going for, but I don’t think it was that.
In order to try and appear less raging, I decided I would just have to smile a wee bit. That is the thought process that lead to this weird video, that now that I have documented here, will never watch again.
It may be because this attempt was not very well thought out, but staring down the barrel of the camera does not feel like something I wish to continue. For a piece of work entitled “Exercise DVD”, a bizarre instructional video in which I inform viewers of the best ways to interact with polystyrene, I do actually speak to the camera. The exercise documented above helped me to practice this, with the main lesson leant being to keep my moments of eye contact brief. Whilst I do enjoy the idea of making an audience feel slightly confused and uncomfortable, this is something that should be deliberate, not just a side effect of an awkward video.