Monday, 29 March 2010
Video Is The Only Constant April 7th 2010: Tom Estes
Storm, 1:39, UK, installation
Estes' latest video work, 'STORM' is a true companion piece to his existing practice of borrowed elements in the creation of a new work. 'STORM' deals with the Biblical tale of Noah and the Ark- in the style of the Keystone Cops on acid. The work, is a re-recording of a film that is being projected onto a Bible. The Bible is open on the page of the account in Genesis 6-9 which details how God sends a great flood to destroy the earth because of man's wickedness and because the earth is corrupt. Estes’ choice of projecting fast-motion slapstick comedy directly onto the Biblical text is a deliberate mitigation of surrealist shock. The speeded action alters the tone of what seems a traditional childrens story- but with the mad attention urges of a Play Station gamer.
This updated version references the latest of shock art and horror film and so serves up a re-evaluation of the grim tale in which God in a final act of violence, decides to extinguish all life, (with the exceptance of Noah and a few choice animals). It is this element that drives the intellectual engine of the fantastic. As images flash by they become signs referring to an earlier reading of the Biblical text as well as a twisted view of our new millennium.
Times change, and so do people's outlooks. Today's audiences are gorged with violent spectacle, which though still shocking and frightening, can no longer traumatize to the degree that it once did. And yet in real life we probably have a greater distance from, and abhorance to, violence than in any other time in history. STORM is able to penetrate the audience's inner fears and mirror their masochistic desires. Even as religion, magic, alchemy and the occult seem to be on the wane in our culture, they preside over the gestation of science fiction and invest STORM's gothic subject-matter with an aura of comic gloom. In an age of global warming, the grimoire of the Magus becomes the mad-scientist’s user manual or the bad-science of popular opinion. Estes above all, wants to communicate with this audience; their pity and fear matter to him. With a condensed expression of these mental states, the tragic drama remains here on a level of emotional liquidation and dark indifference. The final success of STORM must be attributed to the risks it takes in revealing Estes' maverick artistic vision, and in Estes' final presentation of the work as still photographs.
"As a creator of multi-media performance & installation, my work has been hung, played, performed and installed in a few of the world’s right places and a couple of deliciously wrong ones. I am interested in the role of Anthropology in the study of human behaviour. My area of research is based on issues surrounding longing and desire, and so often intermingles elements of personal stories with wider historical and social narratives. Most scholars consider modern Anthropology as the study of the 'other' and as an outgrowth of the Age of Enlightenment and the first European colonization wave. I attempt to reverse this relationship, turning the anthropological eye and placing particular emphasis on the perspective and impact of long-term, experiential immersion, often known as 'participant-observation'. The central premise of my research is that fantasy and illusion are not contradictions of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives."