The Jump Films
Three, 16mm films, each looped, presented simultaneously as an installation. Duration ; 5 mins, 4mins 10 secs, 7mins 5 secs
One of ‘The Jump Films’ was presented on its own as part of the exhibition ‘A Century of Artist’s Film in Britain’ curated by David Curtis at Tate Britain, 2004.
‘The Jump Films’ Installation was shown for the first time in its complete form at Street Level Gallery, 2006, during Glasgow International. In 2009 the work was shown at the Dean Gallery as part of the exhibition ‘Running Time: Artists’ Film in Scotland 1960 til Now’ and in 2010 the full installation was exhibited in HD format at the Reg Vardy Gallery, Sunderland.
During exhibitions these three films are screened simultaneously on separate projectors, as loops, in one space. Each film documents a jump, or a fall, shot at thousands of frames per second, and was made using a high-speed film camera that is normally used in scientific research or car-crash testing. The premis was to scientifically document an event that could not be quantified in scientific terms, and to investigate a mythology associated with ‘heroic’ male performance artists such as Bas Yan Ader, Yves Klein, and others. So Neville performed all of the jumps himself. Each film is shot at different speeds, in different locations, to give a contradictory notion of jumping, or falling. One film seems to document an abortive suicide attempt, another a stunt from a Hollywood movie, and the third seems to present jumping as an absurd Olympic event. In this way, a metaphorical reading is given to the idea of a jump, or fall.
The work explores how our experience of performance art history from the 1960s and 1970s is mostly confined to grainy, still images taken from films or videos, in art history books. This format is echoed in that of the high-speed films, which seem to reduce every event to a series of grainy photographic stills that only change incrementally, and that make this connection between film, and still images seen in art history books, more explicit. Thus, ‘The Jump Films’ also make comment on the way in which early performance art films and photographs existed only as a perfunctory document of an action that was itself the intended artwork. ( As opposed to these performance art films that explore the nature of film as the artwork).
IN THE PRESS
The Jump Films, Mark Neville, 1995-2006