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Pink Trousers

William Raban
1976
Continuous Colour 16mm
installation

Pink Trousers

16mm colour film is exposed on a film projector, and after processing it is shown contiguously with the gallery wall surface from which it was taken. Using a projector as the camera ensures that the image is both recorded and reproduced through the same optical system.
The installation is an accumulative work, developing in complexity over a period of days. It is concerned with both the SPACE and TIME of projection, the relation between 'camera' and projector viewpoints, the perspective distortion caused by the audience varying their viewpoint in relation to the projector position, the tangible presence and length of the film loop that spans the space between projector and screen surface, and the dividing of the time/space caused by the regular interruption of the projector shutter; these are all key parts of the work. W.R.

In Raban's Pink Trousers, which was made and shown at the Acme Gallery in Covent Garden in 1977, a dual-purpose camera/projector was used to shoot a film in a corner of a room and then project it back into that same corner. The projection space, although three-dimensional, was composed of flat surfaces, upon which the ghostly image of the trouser clad dancer, Marilyn Halford, flashed. The film highlighted the differences, also interactions between pro-filmic space and projection surface, dpeth of field as a component of perception and as a function of the camera lens, and between ambient and projection light. The latter was complicated by the fact that some ambient light was present in the space when the projector was switched on. The work also referred to the practice, in the early years of documentary cinema, of using the same adaptable machine to shoot, print and project. Indeed it was itself like a 'primitive' film, having the same form as early Lumiere shorts, yet destroying the magical illusion created by those first films by returning the image to its literal origins. This was a typically anti-illusionist work from the Structural Period, but was unusual in being a site-specific film for a gallery. The room was not adapted for conventional film projection. On the contrary, the peculiarities of the space coloured surfaces, cracks between floorboards and the intrusion of ambient light, as well as noise and light spillage from the projector impinged on and enriched the work. Ironically, perhaps, this made it more durable than many contemporary examples where work has been compromised through being shown in inadequately darkened galleries that are also thoroughfares.
Nicky Hamlyn, 'Site Specificity in Film and Video Installation', Experiments in the Moving Image2004

The installation was first shown at the Scottish Arts Council Gallery, Edinburgh in August 1976. Also shown at Acme Gallery, London, 1977.

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