- Part of...Mark Lewis: Howlin' Wolf
- Gallery 1
A filmed portrait of Canadian actress Molly Parker (Titanic and the television series' Deadwood and Six Feet Under) is superimposed on a backdrop of an abandoned restaurant and gas station. Lewis has used the traditional method of studio rear projection to combine the images, a technique commonly used in 1930's and 1940's cinema to 'transport' stars to dangerous or exotic landscapes by filming them in a studio against a backdrop of a previously filmed location. Now outmoded by blue screen technology, this overtly superficial technique highlights the dislocation of time and place that results from making the work in several distinct stages.
This is further reflected through the changing landscape from autumn to winter, and the disorienting 'trombone' or 'push and pull' filming technique Lewis has used to give the impression that we are simultaneously moving in and out of the landscape.
Lewis explains his choice of actress for this film as follows: "I invited Molly Parker to be the actress in this film for several reasons. I felt it was important that the film should depict someone who is recognisable, not necessarily in name, but crucially in terms of style and performance (i.e. she is an actress). In addition, Molly Parker's 'neutral' look has, in my opinion, an uncanny similarity to the way female subjects were often depicted in early modern portrait painting and in turn in the early modern cinema of the 20's and 30's (when rear projection was introduced). This look can be characterised I think as a complex combination of idealisation and individuality, a look that is both universal and unique at the same time." (Initial proposal to FACT, February 2005).
This piece recalls the traditional combination of landscape and portraiture in film, photography and painting, through a film technique that - Lewis suggests - unwittingly recalls the playful use of spatial composition in paintings such as Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait or Edouard Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Mastered in High Definition (the latest technological innovation in video presentation) using the obsolete technology of studio rear projection, this work suggests that the evolution of film and technology are linked to developments in early modern painting.
The title of this exhibition, Howlin' Wolf is perfectly suggestive of a set for a horror movie. Lewis plays with this sense of anticipation, perhaps a tribute to Hitchcock, which is evident in his other film works where something, somewhere, is almost certainly happening in the background.
2006, Super 35mm transferred to High Definition
Rear Projection was commissioned by FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) in partnership with the British Film Institute and Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo. Funded by Film London through the London Artists' Film and Video Awards and Arts Council England.