“Epileptic Seizure Comparison”,
Suffering and torture
You only have to cross the street to go from the V2_ Institute to the Witte de With Contemporary Art Centre where three radical artists are being exhibited, one of them being the American Paul Sharits. This latter is known for his flashing films, but it’s in observing works comparable to paintings that we understand his work methods, directly inspired by musical composition. The “Frozen Film Frames” are made up of 16mm films whose images have been coloured one after the other. The vision of these “colour charts” helps to apprehend films like “Declarative Mode” where a rectangle, whose colours can change up to 24 times a second, is projected inside another that is also flashing. The two reels are in fact the same in every way, except one has been turned on a second before the other. One can see a kind of temporal prolongation of the work that is no less obsessional about colour than a Joseph Albers, but anyone suffering from epilepsy is warned against the projection, a sickness that according to Yann Beauvais, “Paul Sharits has always dreaded”.
Epilepsy is in fact the subject of the installation “Epileptic Seizure Comparison” of 1976. This installation functions around a corner closed off by 16mm film images. In the upper projection, like the lower projection, there are men suffering with electrodes attached to their skulls, placing us in a medical context. Bright colours regularly perturb the two projections. The films come from medical studies conducted on the cerebral activity of patients during epileptic seizures. So our condition is as spectator looking upon their sufferings, incapable of stopping the experience or the patient’s cries. Everything here puts us in an uncomfortable position. And then there are the incessant flashes that seem to directly attack our brains before the filters of thought are ready to react. This installation is in fact nothing more than a trap from which it is difficult to remove oneself.
excerpt of a text read on www.newmediaart.eu/spark.html
yesterday i watched parts of this film in a single screen version: it´s quite disturbing, but fascinating. i´m quite into sharits and the values of single frames…
posted by md