Expressions is a video installation made up of 9 projections of the same video which loops at different intervals. It includes sound which is asynchronous to 8 out of the 9 videos being projected. This is a digital only installation due to the national lockdown which is currently happening. It is to be experienced with a full screen on your laptop, with out without headphones for the sound.
Medically, the state of generalized anxiety is often referred to in relation to its causes, most associated with stress, rather than the experience of apprehension and fear. Whereas scientifically, anxiety is commonly perceived as an alarm being triggered which in turn activates the fight or flight response, despite the absence of immediate danger.
Expressions is a video installation which focuses on creating a simulation of this given experience and the micro expressions which exist in-between. Using a high frame rate of 120fps and slowing time down allows for the creation of an otherworldly place, a place of unease and of the unknown.
This unrealistic time scape also contributes to communicating a certain detachment of mind from body. Much like the animated protagonist in Ed Atkins’s work, Something Is Missing, is used as a way of presenting the inner thoughts and fears, the physical face of the character presented in Expressions is merely a visual vessel for the emotional, other-worldly experience of anxiety.
To further explore these mental places of uncertainty and danger, a fluctuation in the amount of warning received was introduced with the use of a bright fluorescent yellow. The colour yellow is often perceived as unsafe or threatening, because of its connotation to warning signs. The yellow shifts in intensity and even occasionally overtakes the entire scene as a way overwhelming the viewer. Similarly, to the way that Bruce Nauman has used yellow lights in Dream Passage with Four Corridors (1984), as a way of intimidating anyone who might dare enter the experience he had created.
Another aspect which contributes to communicating the state of panic and anxiety in Expressions is the circular shape which confines it. This attribute was a decision made at the inception of this piece and it is very much so what led the development process. It was inspired by Annie Dillard’s text called Total Eclipse which describes her experience of an eclipse and focuses on the overwhelming sense of doom it brought her. This circular shape instantly became a way of instigating a sense of panic. Primarily through its intimidating and claustrophobic qualities and further through the existing connotations that the sun has to insanity, mortality and depression.
Expressions also uses sound, as well as the notion of the deluding affect that the sun and invasive light specifically can have on one’s mind, in order to explore the in-betweens of places. The simulated place of anxiety and panic is extended by using reverberations, echo, equalisation and delays which are central to the studies of fear potential and altered states of mind. These features allowed for a soundscape which exists in a different time scape, one which cannot be appointed to the past, present or future but rather exists within the experience of panic and anxiety only.
Finally, it is important to note that this piece can only exist as an installation. Expressions invites the viewer into a dark corridor and surrounds them with an intimate, close-up image of a woman. The multiplicity of images projected down this corridor intrude on the viewers personal space, whilst the confined space in the corridor and the overload of visual and at times sonic information does not allow them to disengage. It exists as a hallway of warning, without any presence of danger.