Susan Morris at Accident, London (1997)

R. J. Preece
artdesigncafé - art | 15 September 2009
This review first appeared in World Sculpture News, 4(1), p. 51 in 1998.

Susan Morris at Accident, London

Entitled Between Hits, Susan Morris’s recent show featured five individual oriented, silent video clips, and a sound piece. With four of the works arranged at a approximately eye-level and diametrically opposite each other, and a larger video projection balanced in a niche with headphones at the back of the gallery, the exhibition was like being in a voyeuristic, contemplative, and detached control room— surveying an approaching urban landscape that highlighted interior and exterior distinctions, and the concept of isolation.

The concept of anonymous urban landscape is explored in Courtyard (1996) and Soundless (1997). In the former, the scale and identification of the spatial parts are ambiguous. However, people eventually enter the frame, altering the beautiful composition and providing a context for harsh urban landscape. The camera aims down, like a sniper. For Soundless, the camera utilizes the architectural context presented here to create strong directional lines to focus on two people conversing on a balcony in the distance; yet the viewer is unable to hear what they’re saying. With our only clue being non-verbal communication, Morris doesn’t let us get too close to the scene.

For Window (1996) and Working Blind (1997); interior/ exterior distinctions are approached. Both take ordinary views and add formal dimensions. With Window, an unremarkable door with corrugated glass is filmed illustrating public/private divisions and the passage and distortion of light. Yet, while the clip is visually soothing and protective, producing an effect that is almost like a painting, tension is created as we anticipate possible action. Working Blind also plays on the ideas of interior and exterior, form and anticipated action. In this case, Susan Morris mounts the camera in front of a window on a motor turning at one revolution per minute, giving it a mechanical life of its own. The looped clip documents the passage of time, suggesting obsessive observation and, in common with Window, generating an unnerving tension.

As encouraged by the artist, Between Hits invites interpretation on many levels and in many directions, playing with the ideas of getting it right and not right, finished and unfinished” or, the “hits” of a killer or drug addict, identity, visual communication and comprehension, and the idea of “star” art works. Here, the artist regards closed-circuit TV images as containing a unique beauty, latent with a form of narrative with no beginning, middle, or end.

Using five-hour looped video clips, the artist again uses the exhibition environment and process to manipulate the idea of time within the exhibition process, with the material deteriorating and the tapes completely eroding and eventually erasing themselves.