Fearghus Ó Conchúir Choreographer and Dance Artist
February 19, 2010

Talking Heads – thoughts on screens

Talking Heads is a an exhibition of work at the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art The information that they sent out to publicise the event connected to the thoughts that my residency with Roberta Lima prompted. It is also relevant as I begin preparations for making a new film with Dearbhla Walsh for the RTÉ/The Arts Council Dance on the Box series.

Taking its title from the filmic convention common to docu-journalism and webcam exhibitionism, Talking Heads is an exhibition of contemporary artworks that explore the people and faces that populate the mediascape. The eye-witness testimonial, the confessional, the report, the expert discussion; each of these techniques lends authority and credence to the speaking subject. And yet, film is not simply an objective witness to an interviewee, but a creative framework open to directorial manipulation and interpretive control. In this way, the artists brought together in Talking Heads explore the multiple positions of the subject under the gaze of the camera.

Peter Weibel has commented that today’s media savvy generation share a library of visual experiences fed by the mass media from blockbuster films to advertising billboards. This media competency is expressed through an appreciation for editing techniques, camera work, narrative structures and production values. It would appear that the mechanics of media are so familiar to a generation that grew up with VCR’s and digital cameras that film has become a sort of visual Esperanto that an increasing number of people can ‘speak’. For Jorg Heiser, the pleasure of watching a film is now derived precisely from a recognition of its finer structure, from identifying not just with its characters but also with its directors. Today, almost everyone can speak critically about the way a TV programme or film is put together and, furthermore, the reach of these films defines the meaning of community in the television age.

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