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Guy Sherwin
Since 1975 Sherwin has been working on the Short Film Series.

This comprises films of a uniform length: three minutes, (the length of a 100 foot roll of 16mm film) Each film brings a given subject matter into conjunction with a particular filming procedure, such as shooting at a rate of one frame per second, or varying the exposure to emphasise particular aspects of an image. Most are single shot works, the length of the roll, and some are edited in-camera. All are silent and black and white, which stresses the agency of light and shadow and de-emphasises a potential (full-colour) documentary naturalism. In keeping with these concerns, Sherwin usually prints the films himself in order to gain more control over the contrast, textures and light levels in each film. The subject matter varies enormously, from industrial and rural landscapes, to portraits and still lifes. The individual films in the series can be joined together in different combinations to bring out different aspects. This is important because it demonstrates the fact that even the simplest of films can be seen in different ways and are thus complex.

In Eye the cameras lens aperture is slowly opened and closed on a close-up of a young womans face, so that as the picture grows darker the photographic lamp, which is reflected in the womans eye, is the only visible thing remaining in the shot, a single spot of light, no longer visible as a reflection. The image is reduced to its own light source, before brightening again to reveal the whole face which glows at maximum aperture. The piece reminds us that we are looking not at a face, but at a pattern of light on a surface. It also recalls ancient theories of light in which rays were thought to emanate from the eyes. (In fact a certain amount of the light that enters the eye does bounce out again).

In Metronome stop-frame filming is used to arrest the to and fro movement of the arm on a clockwork metronome, whose speed relative to the intermittent camera is varied by slight repositionings of the weight on the metronomes arm. By way of contrast the linear passage of time is indicated in the time-lapsed shadows creeping through the background.

The Short Film Series reflect the influence of 'process' that was prevalent in much of the art of the 1960s and 70s. In process art the procedures by which something is made are considered to be as important as the end product itself. The rigour of this approach to film also reflects Sherwin's involvement in the London Filmmakers Co-op in the 1970s, where the politics, meaning and nature of film were energetically debated. In these debates those aspects of film taken for granted by mainstream filmmakers were argued out and scrutinised. Thus the function of the lens to produce a focused image, the role of the tripod versus hand-holding, or the nature of the projection event, were all called into question.

Still from Short Film Series by Guy Sherwin, 1975-2004
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