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Stuart Marshall

The work is a counter-attack against the slew of alarmist prejudice that formed the tabloid press's response to the burgeoning AIDS epidemic - a response that collapsed difference between sexuality and the disease (to which Marshall lost his own life in 1993) - and examines the relationships between illness, homosexuality, persecution and representation. It exploits its medium socially and formally, as a public information film, a cultural history and an experiment in disruption that can be understood through another idea in Williams's work - the concept of 'flow'. Flow is the term Williams uses to describe how stations organised their schedules for viewers to stay tuned, so that individual programmes are read in the context of a larger unit, a whole evening's viewing of one programme after another, a flow into which the (unwitting) viewer is monopolised - hooked and carried along. The peculiar structure of Bright Eyes, its juxtapositions and variety of registers emulates the variety of an evening's viewing while staging its own disjunctions as a brilliant seduction into and activation of the viewing experience. There is no single authorising voice-over in the video, connections are powerfully implicit rather than didactically explained. It's various sections wildly but purposefully range wildly from dramatic reconstructions of an AIDS patient being whisked into hospital along corridors that are cleared because of a (misinformed) fear of contamination, to historical dramatisations of (prejudiced) scientific enquiry into the visual signs of illness. Along with art historical analysis, there are sections concerning the Nazi persecution of sexuality, mock confessionals, interviews, literary extracts and an extraordinary collapse of time in a first person account by a homosexual concentration camp 'survivor' spoken in the present by an actor whilst being driven along German motorways. Also included are the talking heads of medical professionals, AIDS experts, charity workers (The Terence Higgins Trust), the London gay and lesbian bookshop Gay's the Word and the video ends with the re-reading of American Michael Callen's epochal anti-AIDS-prejudice speech to Congress, now given from the arboretum at the top of the cruising ground on Hampstead Heath.

Stills from Bright Eyes by Stuart Marshall (1984)
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