Reframings:art and the moving image in contemporary Northern Ireland

Blair, Paula (2012) Reframings:art and the moving image in contemporary Northern Ireland. Media Education Journal, 51. ISSN 0268-1951

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The increasing convergences in new media technologies and modes of film-making compromise the usefulness of traditional or canonical ways of thinking about Irish film. Theory of Irish film can benefit from broadening out what we regard as ‘cinematic’ to include various ‘moving image’ visual arts practices, such as video installation and performance art. This wider scope invites marginalized visual arts practices and practitioners (experimental women artists, for instance) to enter into discussions and shifts focus away from marketability aimed at niche audiences (i.e. the impressionable cinemagoer, or art elite) and towards more widespread cultural and educational worth. The proposed article introduces a theoretical ‘reframing’ of Irish/Northern Irish film in the close examination of a mixed media work by Belfast-based artist Sandra Johnston, which is entitled Composure (Catalyst Arts, 2004). During this live piece, Johnston utilized a television archive to draw attention to the instantaneity of that medium’s storytelling. She did so by extracting a segment from a long forgotten 1970s news broadcast, and ‘froze’ it in a video loop screened on a television. In the same space, the artist continuously drew and re-drew temporary pictures on window panes. Johnston forced the audience to spend time with a media event that is normally forgotten with its immediate passing, while pointing out through her actions that stories are continuously re-written, re-imagined, and re-framed. With reference to the educational pedagogy promoted by members of the Fluxus movement, this article will outline the potential benefits of performance as a physical interpretation of or response to an event. In juxtaposing seemingly different experiences, actions, media, and feelings, connections between people and their emotions can be made. Equally, there is educational worth in the critical analysis of such work in that it articulates any emotional connections, as well as those between the psychical form(s) and content(s) in such ambiguous and multi-layered live happenings. The application of live and non-live forms of the moving image occurring in conjunction to confront themes particular to contemporary (post-Agreement) Northern Ireland, may be related by their cinematic qualities, and as such, combine to reframe notions of Northern Irish cinema. This necessitates change in approaches to teaching Irish cinematic history.

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Journal Article
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Media Education Journal
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14 Sep 2015 15:30
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22 Nov 2022 02:15