|Pane by Louise K Wilson & Spencer Roberts, made for Light & Dark/Motion & Stasis (curated by Chris Meigh-Andrews) for 24/7, the Gooden Gallery, Vyner Street, London.
An electronic 'tapping' device draws attention to a small peephole located on the surface of an otherwise obscured windowpane. The nature of the sound is ambiguous, falling somewhere between an expression of human urgency, and a stream of machinic Morse code. Consequently it both invites and unsettles.
Peering through the aperture reveals a small LCD display that cycles between two sequences of archive footage. The first clip (in black and white, dating from 1950) documents a crowd of excited customers jostling to stare into a shop window – they vie for presence whilst the camera pans their faces. The second shorter clip (colour, from the early 1960s) documents the fixed gaze of a female mannequin seemingly staring out onto the street. An audible sequence of tapping precedes each piece of footage, as a just-visible metallic tip makes contact with the glass.
The frame rate of the footage is computer controlled and variable - primarily running the clips at slower than real time speeds. These machinically subjective modes of duration contribute to variously nuanced readings of the work. Pane explores the movement of the sign in the process of semiosis, utilizing kinetic, acoustic and visual materials.
The windowpane, as both barrier and interface, is aporetic and opaque. Each sequence presents a contradiction: the archive film material has seductive qualities (especially when playback is slowed to amplify gesture) whilst the lack of contextualizing information frustrates. The low level placement of the screen prompts the viewer to stoop - they must work to engage with unfolding events – whether to glance, or to gaze or to tarry.
The footage was supplied courtesy of the North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University