Douglas Gordon

10 MS-¹

10 MS-¹

1994 Douglas Gordon (1966 − )

It is hard to look away from the painfully slowed-down frames of blistered silver film in Douglas Gordon’s 10 ms–1. A silent, looped video projection on a large tilted screen depicts a man, who falls to the ground in an almost balletic dive, and then appears unable to get up. His awkward attempts to stand are frustrating and pathetic. The environment is hard and stark – one can make out what looks to be a hard bed to the right-hand side. He is wearing only underwear, adding to his vulnerability; his pale, quite useless limbs appear to thwart him as he tries different ways of getting to his feet. This work follows 24 Hour Psycho (1993),[1] which also employs slow-motion process, and is perhaps Gordon’s best-known work. However, whilst the material appropriated for that work, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), is almost archetypal, part of the reason 10 ms–1 is so effective is because the source footage is unknown.

The large scale of the projection renders the figure life-sized to us. The tilting of the screen upsets our own balance somewhat, so we approach the figure in the footage as an equal, identifying with his sorry plight. The man is clearly in distress, inviting our pity and sympathy. Repeated attempts and failures, however, begin to wear on us, and discomfort provokes us to consider what we are watching. Caught in an endless cycle of build-up and failure, we separate ourselves from him. We begin to wonder what is wrong. He looks healthy enough. We might discover that the found footage dates to the First World War, adding a new layer of pathos and historical weight to our reading of what we see. Is the problem, then, psychological? Madness induced by the horrors of war, or shell-shock? Why is there a camera watching this man in the first place, and why will no-one assist him? It may occur to us that the event is staged – a medical document or training video.

Indeed, the objective, fascinated gaze that this film encourages of us might be termed ‘medical’. As Gordon has commented in an inter¬view, ‘Fear and repulsion and fascination are critical elements in both the world of this science [neuropsychology] and the world of cinema.’[2] Two other specifically analogous works, made by Gordon shortly after, broached similar themes. Hysterical (1994–95)[3] features another very questionable piece of footage, in which a young woman is provoked into a fit and then restored, for the benefit of the camera. In another, Fuzzy Logic (1995),[4] we witness the last twitching movements of a dying fly. What impels us to watch these images, feeling horrified yet strangely cold and clinical, is the question at the core of these works. In every one, the subject of the film is a prisoner to the camera, just as we the viewer are prisoner to the film, locked in a cold embrace. Interestingly, the more we might emotionally disconnect from what is happening on screen, the more we are drawn to examine the texture of the antique footage, and to consider film in and of itself. As Raymond Bellour has succinctly commented, ‘Gordon lends the cinema a voice that could say: I am dead but I am still alive enough to tell you this.’[5] What this particular piece of footage might remind us is that there is a qual¬ity deeply inherent in the fabric of film, that contains the following uncomfortable message, and wills us to obey: ‘Look. Look. Look.’

LMF

[1]. Private collection and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. Edition of 2.
[2]. ‘Attraction–répulsion’, Gordon interviewed by Stéphanie Moisdon- Trembley (1996), in Douglas Gordon, Déjà-vu: Questions and Answers, Volume 1, 1992–1996 (Paris: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2000), 110.
[3]. Southampton City Art Gallery and Musée Départemental d’Art Contemporain de Rochechouart. Edition of 2.
[4]. Edition of 3.
[5]. Raymond Bellour, ‘The Instant of Seeing’, in Douglas Gordon, exh. cat. (Lisbon: Centro Cultural de Belém, 1999), 27.

Published in Passports British Council Collection, British Council, London 2009

  • Accession Number P6292
  • Media VIDEO INSTALLATION

Glossary (3)

  • Edition

    All copies of a book, print, portfolio, sculpture, etc., issued or produced at one time or from a single set of type. Printed works can be made in an edition of between one and many thousands of copies. With most printing techniques the plate or screen will become worn if very many prints are made, so to maintain quality (and exclusivity) editions of original prints are usually kept below one hundred copies and normally average between thirty and fifty copies. Prints made up of several different plates can be extremely complicated and time-consuming to edition, so in these cases editions are kept low for practical reasons. Sculptural editions are a set of cast sculptures taken from the same mould or master. These editions are usually much lower, consisting of no more than six casts. Though each cast in an edition might have a lower value than a unique piece, it may be a more effective way of offsetting costs of an expensive process such as bronze casting.

  • Film

    A transparent, flexible plastic material, usually of cellulose acetate or polyester, on which light-sensitive emulsion is coated, or on which an image can be formed by various transfer processes.

  • Video

    Images recorded on videotape or on optical disc to be viewed on television screens, or projected onto screens. The medium through which these images are recorded and displayed.

Past exhibitions

BRITISH EXPRESS

  • 2013
    • Slovakia, Kosice, Kunsthalle

LOST BOYS

  • 2013
    • Ireland, Cork, Lewis Glucksman Gallery

MADE IN BRITAIN

  • 2012
    • Albania, Tirana, National Gallery
    • Greece, Athens, Benaki Museum
  • 2011
    • China, Suzhou Museum
    • China, Hong Kong Heritage Museum
    • China, Xian Museum
  • 2010
    • China, Sichuan Provincial Museum

THE FUTURE DEMANDS YOUR PARTICIPATION

  • 2010
    • China, Shanghai, Minsheng Art Gallery

PASSPORTS. IN VIAGGIO CON L'ARTE

  • 2009
    • Italy, Milan, Padglione D'arte Contemporanea

AFTERSHOCK CONTEMPORARY BRITISH ART 1990-2006

  • 2007
    • China, Beijing, Capital Museum
  • 2006
    • China, Guangzhou, Guangdong Museum Of Art

MONOLOGUE/DIALOGUE

  • 2006
    • Thailand, Bangkok, Tonson Gallery
    • Thailand, Bangkok, Chulalongkorn University Art Centre

THE BIG VIDEO SCREENING

  • 2002
    • Hungary, Budapest, Meo Contemporary Art Centre

BLACK BOX RECORDER (ADDITIONAL WORKS POLAND ONLY)

  • 2001
    • Poland, Krakow, Bunkier Sztuki Gallery Of Contemporary Art

LOOP - ALLES AUF ANFANG

  • 2001
    • Germany, Munich, Hypo Culture Foundation

FIELD DAY SCULPTURE FROM BRITAIN

  • 2001
    • Taiwan, Taipei, Taipei Fine Arts Museum

A CHANGED WORLD

  • 2000
    • Malta, Valletta, St James Cavalier Centre For Creativity
    • Cyprus, Nicosia, Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre
  • 1999
    • Zimbabwe, Harare, National Gallery Of Zimbabwe
  • 1998
    • Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, National Gallery Of Zimbabwe In Bulawayo
    • South Africa, Cape Town, South African National Gallery
    • South Africa, Johannesburg, Johannesburg Art Gallery
  • 1997
    • Pakistan, Lahore, The Old Fort
    • Pakistan, Karachi, Hindu Gymkhana

DIMENSIONS VARIABLE

  • 1999
    • Romania, Bucharest, National Theatre Galleries
    • Slovakia, Bratislava, Slovak National Gallery
    • Hungary, Budapest, Ludwig Museum
    • Lithuania, Vilnius, Contemporary Art Centre
    • Germany, Darmstadt, Institute Mathildenhohe
  • 1998
    • Croatia, Zagreb, Zagreb Union Of Croatian Artists
    • Czech Republic, Prague, Prague National Gallery Of Modern Art
    • Germany, Chemnitz, Stadtische Kunstsammlungen
    • Poland, Warsaw, Zacheta Gallery
    • Ukraine, Kiev, Soros Foundation
    • Sweden, Stockholm, Royal Academy Of Free Arts
  • 1997
    • Finland, Helsinki, Helsinki City Art Museum

TREASURE ISLAND

  • 1997
    • Portugal, Lisbon, Gulbenkian Foundation

HIDE AND SEEK

  • 1996
    • Israel, Jerusalem, Art Focus/ Jerusalem Foundation

THE BRITISH ART SHOW 4

  • 1996
    • Wales, Cardiff, Various Venues
    • Scotland, Edinburgh, Various Venues
  • 1995
    • UK, Manchester, Various Venues

PROJECTED IMAGES

  • 1995
    • Italy, Venice, British Pavilion
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