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Guarded Proximity

Erika Tan
1997

audience dependent sound and slide projection

Guarded Proximity

'Guarded Proximity takes documentary practice as its reference.

The position of documentary film and photography has long been seen as the 'recording' of the 'other'. More recently, cultural reflexivity, liberal ideology etc have influenced a process of collapsing difference within documentary approaches. My work does not seek to contest the similarities or differences between the 'West and the rest' but that of the idea that modern technology allows us (both the right and the means) to penetrate all cultures. Geographic, political and cultural barriers are considered something from the past. Perhaps it is at this point where personal barriers and boundaries still provide the greatest resistance to translation.

Technically the piece was activated only through the presence of an individual. The 5 slide projectors and sound were individually connected to their own Passive InfraRed detector (like that found on security systems). It was possible to be in the space without triggering any images thus being left in the dark with only the distorted but still recognisably 'exotic' sound track. Images: slide projections of the individual and groups of people with their backs facing outwards. These images created a circle within which the viewer was central (both geographically and in terms of setting off the PIR detectors). Despite this centrality, the actual images marginalised the viewer through placing them on the outside of the action. In this way I hoped to effect a dislocation of the viewer and the presumptions of Western documentary practice.'

Shown at Central Saint Martins M.A show

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