Ornamental Hermit, looped video projection, 2016, excerpt from 14 minutes, installed at the Yale School of Art
For as long as I can remember I have experienced the people around me as the boundaries of my physical and mental movement. These structures are human architectures that are created through time, in relationships. They occur from the personal scale to a societal scale and are often more urgent than concrete walls.
In this project I work with the entanglements of the human body, human architecture and the human landscape. I use projected video to visualize relationships in two distinct ways simultaneously: synchronic (with time) and diachronic (through time), juxtaposing ‘real time’ with the accumulated halted time as developed by physiologist Étienne-Jules Marey in his chronophotography.
First three performers and a dog are seen in one single seven minute take as they perform a series of mundane and intimate actions including eating, resting, washing and sex. Two performers are seen diachronic. All of their frames are seen at once, ordered by their position in space, leaving an architectural residue of action and interaction. The third performer and the dog are seen synchronic. Consequently the same entire seven minute take is shown again, but now the first performer is seen with time while the other is seen through time.
The uncovered bodies become rudimentary building blocks for an elementary architecture. As such the work places itself in a rich history of ideas about primeval architecture. Filarete for example proposed that the double pitched roof originated from“ . . . Adam sheltering his head from the extra-paradisal (rain) by pitching his hands”
These narratives of primal architecture incorporate the garden. The enclosed garden is a place of polarities: it simultaneously proposes a hermetic microcosm and is part of the larger cosmic order, it “is both inside and outside, landscape and architecture, endless and finite”, “static space materializes stationary time” and “time and space are one.”
Because the human interactions are scripted, the diachronic structure functions as a folly. Follies are structures deliberately build as ornaments and originate in 18th century landscape-gardening. Influenced by Rousseau many of these follies idealised pre-societal human life with structures like root houses. In Britain some of these follies were purposefully build as secular hermitages for actual hermits to live in. Hermits were contracted for substantial periods. These contracts regulated their actions from day to day, their appearances and hygiene, as well as their social interaction. They were actual practicing hermits in their solitude and remote dwellings, but only on account of a legal contract.
This contradiction of the solitary as part of a social construction informed a similar contradictory relationship in the work. The list of actions, the ground plan as well as the model release function as the contracts between artist and performers.