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Stories in the Dark – Contemporary Responses to the Magic Lantern | Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, Canterbury | 19th March - 19th June 2016

Materials: Fabric, 3 televisions, 2 silvered chalices, a crow, a head, a hymn number chart, a list of vicars, a glass bob of blood, photographic redlamps, various furniture, images on a light box, a speaker, radio headphones, 3 DVD players.

Sound in collaboration with Pendle Poucher; production and animation with Keith Sargent

Gallery Notes:

Anamorphosis is a way of embedding a hidden, elicit, covert or politically dangerous image in another picture through distortion. Often anamorphosis is revealed by a curved silver mirror – a cylinder.

One could think of anamorphosis as an encrypted message that needs to be decoded much as the digital medium of today is encrypted and decoded, except in this case it is simply space that does the coding.

In her work ‘ we never saw it coming’ Lindsay Seers uses anamorphosis animated by film. She made her first anamorphic films in 1993.

In her work for The Beaney/Whitstable Biennale Seers tells the story of Leo Kelly – a man she met in Australia who had an intense religious encounter on Ocean Beach and in the King River in Tasmania, where he was given three stones by angels with images traced in them. One of the stones shows an outlined figure of the Virgin Mary and the other shows Christ’s face in profile (the third was only shown to him but not given). Living alone in an eccentric house of his own making, Leo painted and studied the cosmos alongside his intense religious practices.

We may think of objects as things as being without agency as it seems to be humans that act and create not 'things' – yet objects can have powerful and magical properties that effect and seem to effect human behaviour.

In the spirit of Leo with his self made rooms and collection of objects Seers has made a space in the gallery in which some objects seem to see things and embody memory.

Before entering the room the viewer puts on radio headphones, which play the soundtrack of the work. When one enters the tent (referencing a travelling side -show on the one hand and Leo’s chapel on the other) you can see two reflective cups sitting on top of two televisions. If one looks into these silver cups one will see the corrected distortion of the films that lay beneath them. The two films in the silver objects show symbols, signs as abstracted ideas that surround the story of Leo. There is another third more standard film in the installation showing footage of Leo’s house and LS meeting Leo.

Wrapped on the surface of the silver vessels the images are replayed as if the object can recall – as if feelings and memories are in them. The anamorphosis in the work acts much in the way we might  keep little mementos to recall a person and in touching or seeing them we unlock images and return back to a moment in time. Symbols, signs and artefacts are often also used as a means of protection and devotion as well as this kind of prosthetic memory. Leo used his stones as protection and may seem to have had extraordinary beliefs – the stones he found had a profound effect on his life.

Objects and images have extraordinary power to change things not only in individual’s life but also on a wider cultural level. A society of the past is judged and understood by the objects that it leaves behind but ultimately the distorted and clouded mirrors that reflect history leave us guessing at the past but the presence of matter that contains human stories can be experienced as a momentary transportation into another time and place.