Saturday, 5 December 2009

Rodney Graham - Rheinmetall/Victoria 8

Rodney Graham - Rheinmetall/Victoria 8 - 35mm film [colour, silent], Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 film projector, 10:50 min. loop - seen here

Thinking about beautiful film and prompted by a recent conversation about the beauty of old typewriters, this piece of work came back to mind. I saw Rheinmetall/Victoria 8 by Rodney Graham as part of An Aside, an exceptional show of works curated by Tacita Dean at The Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea in 2005.

The piece is held in the collection of MOMA, New York and here is their description: 'This film depicts a 1930s German typewriter made by Rheinmetall that Graham found in a junk shop. "It was just this incredibly beautifully made, solidly designed typewriter. Not one key had ever been pressed on it," he has said. His filmed homage is projected with a 1961 Victoria 8 projector issued by the Italian company Cinemeccanica, a mechanical wonder that Graham has described as "very beautiful, kind of overly powerful." "It's these two objects confronting one another," the artist has said of the installation. "Two obsolete technologies facing off." ' seen here

This still image is lovely, but the experience of the film in relation to the noisy mechanics of the projector is sublime.

"The sheer size and loud mechanical noise of the Victoria 8 projector in Rheinmetall/Victoria 8 both diverts the viewer’s cinematic gaze from the strangely seductive and compelling image of the typewriter. On screen, the projector’s cyclical drone embellishes the silent film with a soundtrack appropriating the repetitive, and all but forgotten, noise of a typewriter in use. Looking away from the screen, we are offered a view onto an industrial machine usually relegated to and hidden by a rojection booth located at the back of the theatre so that its sound would not interfere with the power of the moving image and its accompanying soundtrack. Alternately glancing between the typewriter and the projector, the viewer begins to realize a shared trait between the two “duelling technologies”: obsolescence. The recognition of this shared characteristic is not without humour and is typical of Graham’s wry touch". Seen here

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