Review: Wicked Games

Originally posted @ Wayward.

Wicked Games by George

I find this video magical. And haunting. And really hard to write about.

I saw George’s video at the EDGY WOMEN festival, in a programme curated by Dayna McLeod, the founder and project manager ofhttp://52pickupvideos.com. Wicked Games was one video among 39 others at the festival, created by 26 artists who currently contribute to 52pickupvideos, or who have done so in the past. It’s an amazing online venue for artists, and is open to newcomers who are willing to take on the challenge of making a new video each week, consecutively, for one year.

Wicked Games can be found here: http://52pickupvideos.com/HTML/George_Week5.html

What is also worth noting about 52pickupvideos is that it invites artists — in the case of George, a dancer and choreographer — to express, experiment and work through video no matter what their background or prior experience with the medium.

Wicked Games stood out for me at the EDGY WOMEN festival screening, though I haven’t found it easy to pin point why or what kind of effect it has had on me. There is something about the seamlessness of this video and careful crafting of sound that makes the video hard to dissect after the fact, though in the moment – watching it – I was fully captivated.

The plural of ‘Games’ in the title hints at the way this piece is crafted: playful but definitely wicked, too. It captivates and repels. The wicked games in this video are the levels of reality; the intense gaze from the moment the video starts in synch with an accelerated slow-motion that sets the tone and speed of the piece. A swaying man stares into the camera signing Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game over the sound of a very present creaky floor. The man’s gaze is intense but not inviting, and is interrupted by a high contrast black and white version of himself. These ‘interruptions’ bring in an unmistakably iMovie aesthetic to the video, a formal decision that speaks not only to George’s use of video to comment on video, but of editing to comment on movement.

A second chapter begins when the two characters appear in the frame for a forced and constrained dialogue – a gesture marked in the narrative by the ‘main’ character leaning forward, indicating that he is turning on/off the camera. This suggests a new level at which the viewer is expected to interact. The viewer shifts from witness to audience: we are invited to acknowledge the act of recording, the presence of the camera, and a performance that is in itself only made possible by its re-presentation in ‘real time’. In this way, the work demands the attention of its audience, and in turn, the audience makes the work complete.

Mél Hogan, April 7, 2011.

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