Nowhere Less Now⁵
Materials: satellite dishes, projections x 2, wired headphones
Sound in collaboration with Pendle Poucher (additional music David Dhonau); production and animation with Keith Sargent
Seers gathers her materials within the reveries of interviewed subjects, who are filmed or voice recorded. First she finds the people, those with stories to tell, then she tells the tale; the ultimate form of the work emerges out of the intersections of these ‘true’ stories. But the direction of the creative process may also be influenced by the contributors, especially in being asked to select which photographs Seers must use as pathways through the possible narrative spaces that unfold.
The artist’s particular way of joining up the dots of historical or biographical fact derives from Seers’ reading of French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941), and in particular his writings on memory and perception, and Gilles Deleuze’s influential ‘rediscovery’ Le Bergsonisme (1966). Bergson felt that the entirety of a person’s life experience was potentially available to consciousness but that the mind employed filters to restrict both perceptual content and memory only to material pertinent to present events. He was greatly interested, therefore, in psychological phenomena such as dreams (‘pure memory’ manifesting as images) or hypnotic regression, which appeared to support the hypothesis that perception and recall can have far more content than is consciously available (many of his ideas were formulated before Freud developed his psychoanalytic theories). In terms of perception, for Bergson our apprehension of events entailed a ‘slicing up’ or a ‘selection’ that discarded a vast array of information contained within the images formed in the mind and, in particular, their dynamic temporal relationships. In his seminal work Matter and Memory (1896), Bergson introduced a diagram of an inverted memory cone and used the metaphor of a telescope being focussed into different regions of the cone, bringing into sharp relief certain regions of recollections that nevertheless remain mostly potential or virtual until resolved.
Seers’ work does not accept the dichotomy of fact and fiction, as nothing seems entirely factual or entirely fictional. Fictional implies untrue and Seers is looking for the truth in things that supersedes mere factuality. The artist has clearly been concerned with Bergson’s notions of ‘multiplicity’ and ‘intuition’, which attempt to bypass traditional concepts of the One and the Multiple. Her work, and especially the dual-screening method, makes great use of Deleuze’s relational terms virtual/actual, fusion/juxtaposition, continuous/discrete, succession/simultaneity.
Her work then coalesces around the points where different biographies, including hers, coincide and come into focus. Memory, of course, is oriented to the specific point of view of the remembering subject – what seems significant to you about a shared event may appear inconsequential to another observer of the same event. Whereas her apparatus, the lens, tends always towards the privileged point of view, the vantage point of documentary objectivity. The unfolding process of the making of the work skirts close to randomness and dissociation yet somehow the superposition of multiple subjective viewpoints seems to lend the events of Seers’ films and texts a peculiar density and inevitability. This seeking out of congruence and coincidence, hidden significance and implied meaning, renders the world as a series of signs that hint at underlying structure and connexion. The signs are all grounded in actual events, then responded to and improvised upon as the work evolves: the result is a fine balance between invention and necessity. It’s no accident that a previous work in 2010 was titled It Has To Be This Way. What anchors the work’s content and prevents the drift toward free fantasy is the disciplined adherence to photographic, filmic, and biographical principles. Seers takes it as given that the act of photographing is laden with the images’ final quality. This means that her material is rarely culled from unknown sources and when she uses found footage it will always retain its identity, i.e. she does not redistribute meaning to found material and when it is found by her its discovery is within the process of the narrative. No matter how improbable some of the narratives that put flesh on these images seem, their documentary veracity is paramount. It happened that way, it happened.