Rebecca Howard’s exhibition was nothing short of immersive. The combination of everyday objects portrayed in a sci-fi-like way made the viewer re-consider the inanimate objects that make up our everyday lives.
“Everything has a precise role, we just don’t understand it.”
It was easy to get lost in Howard’s work through the ever-changing and intense visuals, as well as the eerily engaging whispering of dialogue throughout.
In the room, at the Centre for Contemporary Art, which was no more than twenty by twenty feet, a white screen stood on its own. Behind it, a pale red glowing light shone, illuminating the white walls and wooden floorboards. In the centre of the room, a semi-circle made by use of a curtain contains two speakers and in the middle is a small rectangular seat.
The film, which is around 16 minutes long, combines both visuals and audio that work together in perfect harmony; the speakers are behind the seat making the viewer feel like they themselves are living the film.
When the film starts, a noticeable heartbeat noise begins. The palpitations, along with the whispering which is done by Howard, adds a somewhat sinister undertone to the experience and at one point it almost felt like watching a horror film with the anticipation that something might pop up on the screen.
In a way that was the case as, in one part of the film grey images were suddenly overlapped with bursts of colour; from red to black to a dark orange to black to red to black. And as the sounds of heart beating continued, it was difficult to pinpoint if it was your heartbeat growing faster or if it was just in fact the audio. It felt somewhat unnerving as the narrator whispered to the viewer information that you felt like you weren’t actually allowed to hear.
To contrast the sharp reds and blacks, a moving blue image would often re-appear as well as the white, almost silvery, objects that would rotate on the screen. The everyday objects included a pencil, a key and a watch. In their cleansed state, looking at them in this new light, they became foreign as they spun and turned in a way you would never usually see.
One scene in the film was almost, for a better word, quite repulsive to watch. On the screen an image appeared which looked almost like the small details from inside of a cell. Accompanying it were noises that sounded like someone was scraping their hand through thick watery sludge.
“We’re not all travelling in the same direction; I for one will stay right here”
I was lucky enough to find Rebecca Howard at the Exhibition and have a quick chat about her work:
Overall the exhibition was incredibly different and done an excellent job of submerging the viewer into her work through its audio and visuals; even the curtain as it closed in the viewer from outside of the room. What was nice was how Howard used not only audio and images, but, she also included the use of moving images, music and video.
It made the viewer feel like a part of the creation – a character in her story – very easily in way that you had no choice but to experience it.
Image Credit: The Centre for Contemporary Arts & Rebecca Howard
You can find all the videos from the exhibition here