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Ian Bourn
Ian Bourn has been making videos since the late 70s, at a time when most video artists were experimenting with black and white low-band U-matic, and relatively few homes had video recorders.

However it was the medium's means of playback - on domestic-TV-like monitors - which attracted Bourn, who saw the potential for using the familiarity of television's modes of address to develop his own highly personal and idiosyncratic style. Taking his cue less from contemporary artists' film and more from televisual conventions, with a particular antipathy for TV's portrayal of the 'cheeky Cockney chappie', he set out to develop his own pantheon of imaginary tragi-comic characters, pitched somewhere between Tony Hancock and Harold Pinter.

Bourn has described his single-screen video work as 'a kind of portraiture that examines role-play and the viewer's relationship with people portrayed on film.' As well as being a consummate writer, Bourn is also an actor, often appearing in his own and other's work. The blurring of fiction and autobiography is what gives the work its edge. This is paralleled in his work for 'Housewatch', a mixed-media group co-founded by Bourn in 1985, in which the facades of real houses are used, their illuminated windows presenting the passer-by with an illusory, fictional interior.

The Lost High Road: from Lenny's Documentary to Monolog

One strand of Bourn's work features sharply observed characters, low-life desperados who talk to camera about their lives and the world as they see it. Superficially 'diary' films in that their temporal construction seems transparent, they are in fact fictions, acted by Bourn who plays out his characters. It is Bourn's face we see, delivering monologues, acting out rituals. His introspections are bleak, end-of-the-road visions, tempered by wry humour. However the power of his direct address lies in our, the audience's, recognition of, and possible identification with the on-screen persona. Like the diarist, Bourn filters and extracts what he has observed and heard, often using tape recordings and hand-written diaries, notebooks and sketches as raw material. Coupled with his ear for dialogue, with all its repetitions and hesitations, Bourn also has an eye for the small gestures and mannerisms of the people he observes, their clothes, their style, their way of presenting themselves to the world. This attention to detail has enabled him to literally 'become' the character he is portraying, often living 'in-role' during extended pre-production. Bourn has described these portraits as 'visions of my life as somebody else.'

Filming Sick As A Dog by Ian Bourn, 1989
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