Adam Roberts

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iterations 2007

single screen video work – 1 hour that can be looped
video, 16:9, colour

It could be said that the unit of performance is the action; and that the unit of film is the shot. Often, action and shot are matched – one action, one shot. As a film-maker and editor, I often asked for an actor to perform, over and over, the same small simple action, in the hope of catching the perfect useable performance. The idea, generally speaking, is to discard the imperfect, and use only the one small selected part. This applies most often to simple things, like a close up of a hand grasping a door handle.

However, it seems to me that the unedited sequence commands a strong fascination in itself: the often mistimed action, the fumbled move, the awkward delivery – all these might be valid too. I looked again, and saw value in them: in repetition something might be lost but then found again. And the return is never quite the same. I liked the performer's struggle to repeat and yet vary, to maintain a sense of immediacy and yet a sense of losing the moment.

‘Reiterations’ is therefore a long film composed of such sets of repetitions, where a performer is asked to repeat a simple action over and over again. The sense of purpose that suffices to begin with is gradually lost. Self discipline maintains the repetition, but there is a kind of travel here, without map or compass. That goes too, I hope, for the viewer.

It is intended that looking at this work will produce speculation and thought that a narrative would obscure.

performer: Gerard Bell

concept/camera/direction: Adam Roberts