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Rachel GarfieldClick here to Print this Page
Keith Piper
For example in the Film Go West Young Man from 1994, the undulating sea is the first image, becoming a backdrop to the objects that follow in close succession such as a spinning globe; a digitally manipulated rectangle of pebbles; a map of slavery ports, a square of red tinted sea; a pendant of a head.

This rush of images is what transforms the montage into collage, as linear definitions becomes a dense depth of collage. But somehow in this piece, the sea is a contemplative moment and the calm before the storm. The narrator begins telling a story "Go west young man, I first heard that joke 400 years ago I died laughing' soon repeating the phrase with the add-on, "been dying with monotonous regularity ever since". The father responds, telling the son about the trials and tribulations to come: knowledge and cultural memory passing through the generations. As the father talks and the son responds, images pass through the screen. The visual links are water and the narrator. However, the mediated images such as historical engravings both famous and obscure; of lynchings and slave ships and contemporary reportage of riots, sportsmen and soldiers fleetingly emerge and disappear amid a litany of spoken injustice being meted out upon the black male then and now. The pace of the narrator and the speed of the passing images work up to a final denouement of the black body marked as commodity, not human, referencing the wider politics of human as surplus and cipher for the gain of others. The aggregate of imagery, sound and narration overloads the meaning so that we as viewers feel the weight and pressure of history on the present: a history that is never complete and ever unfolding.

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