My shelves at home are filled with early-2000s compact cameras, SD and micro SD cards, VHS tapes, a VHS camcorder, a 5-inch portable television, and a bucket full of wires and batteries. The technology often comes from local house clearances so, rather morbidly, death is unavoidable in my work. There’s also the device death cycle - all these formats are obsolete. The young have eaten the old.
My video practice shares post-digital concerns, that old devices shouldn’t just be revived but actively repurposed in relation to digital media technologies. For example, Scarface (2018) involved using 4 VCR’s to digitise the same tape of a subject falling asleep. The videos are portrait and spliced together to sit in a row. Each portrait reveals a feature specific to VHS playback: a tracking bar, snow due to dusty tape heads, shaking due to failed tracking. In a time where apps and filters attempt to procedurally-generate these qualities, I felt it was important to reassert the natural and erratic unpredictability of VHS’s broken aesthetics.
My main aim for my work is to avoid perfection. Video sharing sites have become oversaturated with polished content. This sets a precedent as mistakes glare at you in high resolution. Hito Steyerl’s text “In Defence of the Poor Image” has inspired a strategy to avoid this. I have reclaimed 360p and 4:3 in my videos because I don’t think scruffy is bad. I think scruffy allows you to focus on the important bits.
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