Materials: Video projection, 22 minute DVD with stereo sound (Extramission 5), series of colour mouth photographs, ventriloquist dummy with electronics (Sailors Bill – commissioned by Arts Council and Gallery of Photography), book and shelf, monitor with headphones, 12 minute DVD (Intermission).
The work for this exhibition at the Gallery of Photography incorporated a performance, a publication as well as a series of works divided into two major parts and was in collaboration with Gasworks Gallery and Leicester City Gallery. The first part takes up the story where, having given up ventriloquism after a return to Mauritius, the protagonist once more revisits her life as a camera. The photographic works are made by putting colour light sensitive paper inside the mouth and exposing it. The resultant round images are blood red with the light passing through the skin of the cheeks, framed by teeth and blurred with body movement. Here the process is removed from the remote black box of the camera to the warm sensuality of the mouth cavity; now silenced by the image forming inside of it. The strange ritual of making the work, which requires the artist to cover herself in a black sack to insert and remove the photographic paper from her mouth, is, in itself, an extraordinary act that defines being in a place and in a body, in a completely other way to the rapid shot of the camera. Seers becoming the apparatus of the camera significantly alters the usual subject and object divide that is implicit in the photographic act. We see the artist camping out on Tottenham marshes struggling to grasp an idea of time – past, present and future.
The second part of the work signals the final acceptance that being a camera has Cartesian limits which can not be overcome. The only answer to the deadlock is for the protagonist to become a projector. The meta-narrative above this story is informed by Seers' conversations with Glaser about his analysis of perception as projection, and Bergson/Deleuze's analysis of the mind/cinema. Seers attempts to look at how what is perceived is contracted by each individual's memory mapping itself onto any given situation. If photography has a tendency to fall backwards in time, projection/film is fundamentally different because of the way in which it literally moves forward through the emergence of light as opposed to the fixing of light in photography. The new transformation implied by the projector project signals a move towards the future in the narrative.
Finished works take the form of sculpture, photographs, video and installation.
Seers' work entails her becoming a camera, and then eventually, through a change of mind, attempting to become a projector. This body of work was first initiated during a residency in IMMA in 1997. This will be the first exhibition of Seers’ work in Ireland since that period of formative experimentation during seven months at the Museum in Ireland.
The artworks generated through this process come from a meta-narrative – a story that over arches the montage of actions and objects into a coherent and self-reflexive whole. The narrative (which is within the tradition of story telling) assumes a biographical voice, drawing on personal history. It outlines the introduction of photography to Mauritius. Only a day after Daguerre launched his first cameras for sale in Paris, a Mauritian (F. Wohrnitz) having purchased one of these cameras returned to Mauritius, to make it one of the first countries to embrace photography. The fascination with photography that quickly gripped the island later permeates Seers' own extraordinary childhood in Mauritius. In a series of strange coincidences and events, her childhood persona becomes obsessed with photography. Eventually she finds herself driven by the compulsion to turn herself into a camera. The extraordinary story is positioned in such a way that the question of fact or fiction does not arise, in that it establishes its own internal and external truths, which address wide cultural issues regarding the affects of photography and film.
The narrative is told by the artist in a performance, which is made when works are exhibited. The artist enacts the autobiographical narrative in front of a screen (often in a cinema/theatre) onto which a DVD film is projected. The performance changes at every telling. The 'liveness' of the voice-over places the recorded images (DVD) and sound in different registers. The unscripted voice (unfolding in the present) charts the rejection of photography as the past and eventually the narrator's attempt to turn herself from a camera into a projector (the future), frustrated by the limits of her life as a camera.