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Malcolm Le Grice
Le Grice's decision in the mid 1980s to begin using video instead of film marked a distinct change in his approach.

Many of his early films used found footage and drew on printing techniques to develop complicated permutations from short sequences. Most of his videos draw on observations from a video diary.

He usually uses the directly recorded synch-sound that his handheld camcorder records, and though footage seems as if it has been tentatively shot, his material is subsequently worked up in the edit suite.

Sketches for a Sensual Philosophy (1984-8) is a compilation of videos that includes pieces as diverse as Arbitrary Logic, Digital Still Life and Beware; but many of the pieces evoke an experience of landscapes that are ethereal or mythological. The mountains and gorges in Juniper and The Myths of Origin have a sense of foreboding. Et in Arcadia Ego concludes on a reflection of the moon in a pond of lily pads.

Trials and Tribulations (1990-95) is a compilation of works that are by far the most concise that Le Grice has made. They are generally impressionistic and fragmentary. In Seeing the Future people beneath umbrellas in a Far Eastern marketplace are glimpsed through a solarised picture that quivers and intermittently freezes. In Balcony Water Colour the soundtrack of a cut-up Mediterranean thunderstorm accompanies the study of a pink flowering bougainvillea.

Chronos Fragmented begins with a self-portrait that the piece often returns to. It is followed by footage from a number of foreign travels and moments with family and friends. The autobiographical status of this work is not uncomplicated however. There are often sequences of intercutting, rapid editing and analytical passages that look at rhythmic and chromatic relationships. Largely Le Grice breaks shots down and disassembles recorded observations in favour of exploring chronology. In having catalogued hours of footage he is able to draw quite disparate material together, and his method of working with this archive takes advantage of potent collisions that are not necessarily obvious or expected.

Even the Cyclops Pays the Ferryman, the major episode of The Cyclops Cycle, is his most overtly symbolic work. A circular motif recurs on each of the three screens of the piece. These apertures centre compositions that are dense with colourful imagery variously associated with air, fire, earth or water. Woven within the complex soundtrack are field recordings, primal percussive rhythms and a fading piano melody played by his father. His father also appears in the video: having had only one-eye he is the eponymous Cyclops.

There are recurring themes and tendencies in Le Grice's work: an investigative and analytical approach, a brilliant use of colour, and structures that derive from musical form. All of Le Grice's works are also assertive, and whether it is in these videos or the expanded performance pieces he is very present within them. What makes the later videos distinct from the earlier films is that their content has primarily developed from a more personal point of view and perspective.

Simon Payne
Simon Payne is a videomaker. He also teaches in the Department of Communication Studies at APU in Cambridge.
Still from Chronos Fragmented by Malcolm Le Grice, 1969
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