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James McCann


James Mc Cann is a Cork/Glasgow based artist and Royal College of Art graduate, he is currently studying for a PhD at Glasgow School of Art. His work is usually Sculpture, Video, or Performance based. 


‘In the first 3 month of 2015 I exhibited two film-based collaborations with the Catalyst Arts off- site project ‘GARRINCHA’. The first was a launch for the ’99 Music Videos’ project, which took place in The Hatfield Bar in South Belfast. ‘99 Music Videos’ was a 2 year project containing 99 separate short films averaging between 20sec-2mins.

The decision to launch the ’99 Music Videos’ Dvd in a ‘non art’ space such as the sports bars, The Hatfield in Belfast and The Rob Roy in Cork City was made for a number of reasons. One was that staging an art event in a sports bar creates a mild kind of a tension, where regulars of art world and regulars of the sports bar are made aware of routine and difference. The first launch at The Rob Roy, had my experimental video art on some screens and horse racing on the other screens side by side, and the space was almost split down the middle. At The Hatfield in Belfast, the split was time based, as the screening took place just before the evening shift change at the bar, as the experimental art lovers and the relaxed daytime drinkers were side-lined by a less sympathetic evening crowd.

The second reason was due to the nature of the piece itself. The production of a Dvd had always been the intended output for this project. I was interested in this process as I felt it lent an egalitarianism to this art piece as a product. It was a liberation in that, because the Dvd is the piece, I am as happy for it to be watched on a laptop or an Xbox, as I would be for it to be screened in a traditional art space. For this reason, all individual films are also available on youtube; they have also been ‘mixed’ live as a video based performance.

This is in stark contrast to the second piece I have screened as part of ‘GARRINCHA’, which was ‘MONOMANIA 5’. This was screened at Flax Artist Studios Belfast, as part of ‘First Thursday’ in March. ‘MONOMANIA 5’ is a 28 min video piece which contains elements from multiple projects. I have been researching theories of documentary film, and didacticism in artist made films. This film is about an idea of art making as an experiential, referential diagram. I was frustrated and inspired by ‘Cognitive Diagrams’ I had received as part of treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. ‘Monomania 5’ is a culmination of a number of projects, all of which are about this gap between the referential, diagrammatic artwork and the experiential world.

The workshop at Flax Studios was chosen as it related to environments I have used for live performances. Again there was a sense of the artwork being dislocated, but ‘MONOMANIA 5’ at Flax was a far more immersive ‘filmic’ experience. The door to the exhibition was a corrugated iron service entrance, and we used an old gated lift to transport people to the top floor where the film was being screened, the result being that sounds from the film travelled down through the lift shaft.

The Projection took up almost a full wall of the workshop and was partially obscured by structural beams, the speakers were concealed in studio machinery/ debris. The Film itself start with a scan of a ‘Cognitive Diagram’ which was given to me, this shifts around the screen for the duration and is layered on top of still images I compiled to form my own ‘Cognitive Diagram’. The main element of the film, is layered footage, re-adapted from an interpretive piece I made about Samuel Beckett’s ‘FILM’. ‘MONOMANIA 5’ also contains some of the more convulsive elements of the ’99 Music Videos’ project, and a specific, original sound piece.

The re-adaptation of material is conceptual, in that it relates to the position of the artist, trying in vein to describe an unknown to themselves. It also relates to a Baroque, Horror Vacui, in trying to give real referential artistic accountancy to the experiential.’

James McCann | 2015 | Artists | Comments (0)

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