Mark Lewis’ Moving Pictures
- Mark Lewis
- Monte Clark Gallery, Toronto, 20 April to 20 May 2006
For several years, Mark Lewis has been occupied by the complicated, perhaps futile, ambition of making film works that not only deal with the history and nature of pictorial art, but may themselves act as pictures. His recent exhibition at Monte Clark’s Toronto gallery presented six examples of these attempts, which to me outline two separate tactics that he has employed towards this aim.
The first of these has to do with an examination of the technical apparatus of cinema, displayed most explicitly in Downtown: Tilt, Zoom and Pan (2005). The work describes a single location from a static camera position by revealing multiple aspects of the scene through the camera’s various capabilities for movement. Here we are shown a still-life, a landscape, a motif with a small action, and something of a portrait.
One of the primary problems that has risen with the introduction of non-narrative film and video work to the gallery space has been temporal length. Lewis’ recent work, while dealing with the legacy of experimental filmmaking, also, due to its gallery context, has to address this problem. Rather than ignore this problem, take it as subject, or resolve it (as in Rodney Graham’s loops), Lewis structures all of his recent works on the four minute long reel of 35mm film. The works have a fixed form, like, for example, the rectangular image of a camera. The duration provides a stricture that seems to free him to work out problems that are pertinent to him and his medium. In Downtown, both the duration and the fixed camera are used to structure the work, allowing the various dramatic possibilities of the location to be revealed.
Lewis’ Northumberland (2005) is focussed on a drystone wall in the English countryside. The frame is split almost equally between the wall and the landscape behind it. The entire film consists of gradual panning along the wall. As this occurs, the image changes very little—it looks very much like what a photograph of the subject might. In this work, Lewis is not trying to depict a scene, but rather he is attempting to describe it: something that no single photograph could do to such effect.
Lewis’ other tactic seems to be one of simple yet voracious looking. Gladwell’s Picture Window (2005) does nothing but look at its subject. It depicts a shop window with some framed pictures in front of a red velvet curtain and little else. The camera oscillates around, tracing the action of the film, which is not in—but rather is—the reflection in the glass. The curvature of the window creates several planes of reflection and refraction, and the camera’s movement places these in flux. The camera’s lens, also curved, continuously complicates perspective as it moves. It is almost a description of optics; as if the curved glass of the window is studying the curved glass of Lewis’ lens and vice versa.
Attention! What you see here is only an excerpt of a longer article. The full text appears in printed copies of the magazine. To purchase the issue of Fillip in which this article appears, please visit one of our many retailers worldwide, or contact us directly. You can also purchase the full text of this article for $2cdn via Paypal. A link to the full article will be emailed within 24 hours of your received payment.
About this Article
Mark Lewis’ Moving Pictures was first published in Fillip 4 in Fall 2006. For more articles from this issue, see the Table of Contents.
Adam Harrison is a Vancouver-based artist, working principally in photography. He is also the co-curator of CSA Space, Vancouver, and co-editor of the online arts and literary magazine, Doppelganger, which can be read at http://doppelgangermagazine.com.
The views expressed in Fillip are not necessarily those of the editorial board or the Projectile Publishing Society.
All content appearing on this website is copyright to the authors, artists, editors, and the Projectile Publishing Society, or is published with the permission of the copyright holders. No part of this site may be reproduced, copied, or transmitted in any form or by any means without express written permission.