Christine Collins (SA) - CACSA CONTEMPORARY 2015
Opening - 6:00 PM - Wednesday, 29 July
Running - 30 July 2015 - 22 August 2015
The French word ‘Acousmate’ refers to ‘invisible sounds’. The origin of the term is said to be from the word ‘acousmatiques’, which refers to the disciples of Pythagoras, who would listen to the master speak behind a curtain so that the sight of the speaker did not distract from the message.
This idea underscores Christine Collins art practice, which is focused on ‘invisible voices’. Pursuing an interest in language, spoken words in particular, Collins gleans dialogue from Hollywood film, separating the vocal from the visual, the words from the body and the character from the scene. Various projects run like an experiment, firstly with excision of the dialogue from the film and then a systematic and obsessive rearranging of the language, in order to examine the remains of the character type or the genre, when the imagery, the narrative and cinematic apparatus is dismantled and only the voice remains.
In the latest work developed for CACSA, dialogue is captured from twenty different war films. The films come from a range of cinematic periods, from a ‘white and Western’ perspective, in various war campaigns and taking different political positions, from the glorification to the criticism of war. The filmography includes Cavalry films from the American Civil War, World War One and World War Two films, the Vietnam War, the Boer war and othercolonial conflicts. The cast of heroic voices is extensive and includes John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Charlton Heston, Lee Marvin, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, Alec Guinness, Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Jack Thompson and Brian Brown.
In the development of this work, all the statements from the selected films which include a military address, (Captain, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Trooper etc), were collected and rearranged into separate audio tracks based on different linguistic categories, (single address, orders, questions, greetings, introductions, information, requests etc). In experience of the work, the separate tracks play simultaneously from different speakers in a room in the form of a sonic grid to enclose the ‘viewer’.
Whilst it is never possible for the artists hand to be neutral, it is not Collins’ intention to reconstruct meaning of the behalf of the audience. In isolating the voice, removing visual information and rearranging the language into a system other than the original linear or narrative form, the audience has the opportunity to re-examine not only the language, but the contingency of the voice itself.
(Above) Christine Collins, Untitled, 2015, 145 cm x 55 cm, ink on paper.
Image courtesy of the artist.