“ ‘The whole beauty of the Film,’ I announced to my mother and Richard next morning at breakfast, ‘is that it has a certain fixed speed. The way you see it is mechanically conditioned. I mean, take a painting - you can just glance at it, or you can stare at the left hand top corner for half an hour. Same thing with a book. The author can’t stop you from skimming it, or staring at the last chapter and reading backwards… You see, the film is really like a sort of Infernal Machine…’ ”
Stuart Croft explores the relationship between art and cinema. Often involving a film crew, Croft normally writes, produces and directs his short film works. The films are typically dialogue-based and character-driven, apparently following a contemporary TV drama genre. Scenes and characters are established rapidly and only partially, and the audience is quickly drawn into the story. Before long, we are faced with an unmistakable déjà vu sensation, as Croft employs a circular narrative technique and the storyline loops on itself.
Within Dave Griffiths’ practice is a somewhat fanatical appreciation of the cinematic medium. Often working with existing footage, he celebrates the subtlest of filmic nuances. An ongoing motif in his work is the cue dot: the cinematographer’s discrete marker on screen to indicate an imminent reel change. Griffiths has amassed an impressive archive of cue dots, linking diverse film clips and stills with one consistent but rarely noticed mechanical device. When exhibited his growing archive has taken various forms, from edited film sequences to a colour microfiche sheet. His work for Infernal Machine may be the final showing of the Cue dot series, marking the closure of this archive.
Like Griffiths, Martijn Hendriks pursues a particular idea using found materials such as objects, text, images and videos. His work is said to address how ‘unproductive’ gestures might become productive. For Infernal Machine Hendriks will be showing an ongoing work which is a version of Hitchcock’s The Birds in which he has digitally removed all incidences of the menacing creatures, leaving the characters wildly fleeing from an imagined presence. Rather than being a simply mischievous act, Hendriks’ gesture seems to deliberately miss the point, or perhaps more precisely, makes it missing.
Isherwood’s notion of film as an Infernal Machine resonates throughout the exhibition. Together the works provide a dynamic interplay between art and cinema. To quote Isherwood, they “simply ripen to an inevitable explosion, often creating something powerfully simple from a complex medium”.