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Ian Giles

Ian Giles: On Air 

// 26 November - 13 December

On Air brings together for the first time a selection of video work by artist Ian Giles, born in 1985 in Gloucester, UK and graduated from Slade School of Fine Art in 2012, who works across the mediums of installation, performance and film. In his videos, Giles interrogates the filmic medium as both a structure of narrative temporality and for the notion of ‘sculpture’, and attempts to go beyond neutral documentation without ever escaping in to the illustrious realm of fiction.

An authorial transparency pervades in Giles’ work, which usually focuses on one or two activities performed by an individual or a group. As a camera-man, his position towards his subjects evoke the attitude of 20th century cinema verité, an approach distinctively cleansed from fictional elements but still existing in a space entirely different from documentary. On the Way to Language depicts a group engaged in an everyday conversation in which each person speaks a different language (French, English, Mandarin, Italian and Portuguese) – an unrealistic, yet far from fictional situation which seems justified in its use of performative ‘organisation’.  Similarly, The Stone Balancer, which juxtaposes images of a gymnast duo and a stone balancer engaged in respective situations of balancing, borders lyrical documentarism as it incorporates ambient music and soothing shots of nature.

“I make films because the activity needs to be filmed to be contained; the mechanics of film allow my (non-linear) narratives to be told,” Ian Giles explains of his approach to time-based work, hinting at a structural and non-temporal approach to the medium that we might also describe as sculptural. Understood as such, all videos featured in On Air contain some form of sculpturing, whether it is quite literally rocks of nature, human bodies, or with The Clarinet Player, elements of language. Here, ‘sculpture’ is represented as and through film, reaffirming the social, temporal and collective nature of his projects that are events or situations as much as they are sculptures. For Giles, the socius is not just perceived as an energy surrounding the sculptural object, but as a necessary sculptural entity/element that direct or affect the work (as rhythm, balance, meditation, folkloric history, community). Over time, human relations create an energy as palpable as traditional sculptural material that can be collected and negotiated through time based media.

It is the film editing post-production, then, that permits a pure transcendence in to sculptural objecthood as it ties together Giles’ wide-spanning sculptural sensibility to the body, nature, human interaction and the dynamic of cinema itself. In On the Way to Language, images of Brutalist and Modernist architecture are superimposed on to the recorded conversation between the participants, immediately triggering a sculptural or structural reading of language, its (lack of) functionality and abstraction. In Stone Balancer, a meditative ambience is insisted upon through a hybrid layering of ambient folkloric music and shots of nature. Yet, these cinematic grips of pure authorial subjectivity are somehow justified through their sculptural sensibility or logic – rather than an attempt of establishing a genius of authorship, Ian Giles uses cinema as an instigator for the social, or the social as an instigator for the sculptural. In the end, Ian’s sculptural concerns transcend via cinema by extending its own logic of process and malleability. After the expanded field comes a kind of sculpture that is sensible, that is to say grounded in sculptural sensibility rather than material objecthood.

Jeppe Ugelvig


Supported by:

The Arts Council