Susan Wirth- New Video, Rumpus Room, 2013
Moth- digital video projection
A written response by Angus Blackburn
Usually you only get to imagine how an art work is made. You have the finished work in front of you and you can look at the physical boundaries, the material in front of you for clues, for an insight into how. My experience of Moth, a new video work by Susan Wirth at the Rumpus Room space is different in that I have been a spectator throughout the process of its creation.
Moth consists of a single video projection from the floor onto an acrylic cube that rests on the floor of the space. The cube reflects the image about the space, on the brick wall, on the door to the space and elsewhere. It is a video of a performer in a full body suit, which covers his body and face, dancing in tap shoes. The video has been slowed down but it is still recognizably a dance.
I have seen the work at various stages of its creation. One of the key elements is the black costume, hand knotted full body suit which has been made for someone to wear and perform in. Once the suit is on the performer it could be any body. With the identity of the performer masked or hidden by the suit the viewer is confronted by or left with the physicality of and the space around the human body. Yet we identify with the movement of the body, we recognize it as a dance although a slow one.
The video, filmed under black light, the black body suit and the repetitive movement of the performer remind me of the photographic studies of Eadweard Muybridge. Susan has different reasons for setting up her photographic experiment, her documentation of the movement and light. Whereas Muybridge wants to reveal the truth of human movement Susan wants to breach this reality and discover or create an imaginary world.
By recording a performance and selecting a part of it Susan focuses our attention. By slowing this section down Susan is drawing attention to the breach between past and present, context and creation. All this has happened before the installation of this video performance, before it is spread around the room. The installation seems to represent a desire on the part of the artist to continue with the process of removing the subject of her video from its context and creating a new one in the space of the gallery.
The result is to shift the focus of the viewer and ultimately draw attention to the physical nature of the viewing space present as one with the shadow of the body which is the moving subject of her video.