Spit and Image explores parallels between spatial illusion and linguistic instability in an expanded cinema work that combines a continually looping film with an asynchronous poetic monologue. The installation utilizes a two-way mirror as a screen, extending the temporal and spatial ambiguities of cinematic representation into the space of the gallery.
The work’s film component play with ideas of compression and expansion of depth in cinematic space—both in the act of looking through the camera and in viewing the resulting image. The film depicts a somewhat ambiguous location that parallels the mirrored installation apparatus; it lies somewhere between a hall of mirrors and a deconstructed film set. As a cinematic installation, Spit and Image creates a site of optical disorientation that offers an immersive reflection on the artifice and staging devices of film.
Installation video from “Sam Cotter — Spit and Image”, at the Ryerson Image Centre, fall 2014, presented with the support of the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.
Excerpt from the script of Spit and Image:
…many forms flattened fragmented bodies and space bodies in space space and bodies flattened excerpted extracted framed so what of Lacan he’s an actor in too many plays already here we have a stage set for three three becomes four four becomes eight eight 16 and 16 many more and more the players fragment tangent almost disappear there’s beauty illusion truth but what of truth truth of fiction contradiction but I’m still caught in the trappings of language and diction when a bad story is told well or when the subtext is the only thing holding the story afloat this is where we turn to representation the most slippery of slopes for if we can accept sight as false or at least flawed mastery back to Lacan sight as flawed mastery premature mastery can we then agree that representation is at its very least flawed sight incomplete sight premature sight we begin to find more and more problems with establishing certainty and now the plot thickens thickens because the camera has it’s own mirror one that moves so quickly it seems imperceptible it confuses the eye but the film the camera’s mirror and the eye have a strained relationship they are locked in a pas de trois in which none see the same thing the mirror is in continuous motion but doesn’t exist without a viewer without a maker without an eye it’s like the film like the film the mirror is the mediator the mediator is the message or at least it’s bearer you can’t shoot the messenger in this case because it moves to fast and is your only means of aiming the film and the eye take turns seeing for when the eye sees it sees through the mirror and the film is in darkness when the film sees when the film sees it records and it does so due to the mirror’s absence when the film sees the eye is in darkness left only with a latent image like the film when left vacant the latent is the replacement this fact is so blatant that it becomes latent to any understanding of film but the inverse is true and when overrun with stimuli the latent is the replacement for the adjacent and it moves frame by frame by frame by frame frame following frame following frame they say that film is a sequence of frames linear motion frame by frame but we don’t see the frames so how can we be so sure yes how can we be so sure when we only see between the frames we see between the frames while watching a film between the frames while shooting film so how can we give any merit to the individual frames they are both the backbone and least significant part of the film what can be learned by looking at a frame a frame a frame is just an indistinct part of a larger whole an insignificant marker of time and distance an orphan frame is more like a grain of sand or a snowflake than a seed it gives an impression of the texture if what might be in proximity to yes we can form a vague impression of what it might…