The Loop Festival, in Barcelona, included the show SPLIT SCREEN in the festival programme as an online exhibition. The show will be online till the 29.05.

Split screen tries to offer a panorama of the contemporary artistic creation in videoart focused exclusively on the resource of the split screen used by artists in their videos.

The split screen is not a new resource and has its own history, it has been used in all areas of audiovisual media, such as cinema, television, advertising and visual arts. In general, it can be called split screen when the frame is divided into two or more areas, and each area shows a different scene or a different view of the same scene, so that multiple images are shown at the same time. The resource of the simultaneous use of multiple layers of imagery expects to add depth and richness in narration, meaning, emotion and representation of time and space.

The writer Julie Talen, in her article published in salon.com about the return of split screen use in television series and videoclips, offers an interesting and brief history about this resource, and points to: "When so many images flicker at you, you see differently. You glance. You glimpse. Your eyes keep moving, and you use your peripheral vision, the kind of sight connected to fight or flight (and actually processed in a separate part of the brain than the direct gaze). You don't get the entire picture; you can't, and you learn to take this partial experience as being accurate enough". A partial experience that is given by the spacial exploration of the screen, which is divided into different areas where the action happens and the narration is fragmented.

In the same way, split screen also arises questions about the temporal perception. Precisely about that Talen asks: "The single biggest question when the screen divides is: where is now? Which panel is the single shared moment in time that heretofore defined single-channel movies? And when are the other panels happening: earlier, later or at the same time? Cutting up the screen unmoors the images in time. Clearly the simplest answer is to say that the frames are all now, all the same moment. You've divided up the screen but not the time". Obviously time is still the basis of the called time based works, like video, but with the split screen another dimension is open up to explore, the spacial.

Those are questions which are explored in many different ways by the artists featured here. The exhibition, in an attempt to concentrate the approach in the basis of the split screen resource, brings together only videos
divived into two screens.

In Vienne Chan's video in both screens the images are the same, a way of working related to the video contents: people praying in a temple. The action of praying, repetitive in itself, is emphasized by its duplication in the space. Aline Helmcke and Tamar Latzman also choose to use the same images in both screens, however they do it in an attempt to explore the relationship between still and moving images. Helmcke's video depicts different moments around the bridges of Kamo river employing still images and time lapse sequences to enhance this relationship. Nevertheless in Dead Sea both screens departs from the same image (or moving sequence) but one moves forward while the other backward, in a subtle movement creating certain illusion of disappearing. For Latzman, "the use of split screen enables [her] to emphasize the motion, a primer property of the moving image. At the same time, the motion is minute, highlighting the sense of temporality and time, and create a liminal mode between the still and the moving".

Sophie Warren & Jonathan Mosley and Jessica Faiss work in a similiar way making their videos, duplicating the image as mirrors. In Surrender, by Faiss, the resulting is the configuration of a new kind of space, generating a new dimension where the time absorbs us into the image boundaries; the sound,
by Michael Klimczak, also plays an important role inducing to this state of mind. With Fallout Warren & Mosley try to erod away the relationship between the language of logic, economy (throughout product information, branding and coding in which consonants, syllables and half words are extracted and dislodged) and the image, which represents the landscape of production.
In their words: "We use split screen within fallout as a mechanism to self replicate and mirror the insistent gaze of the camera. The 180 degree pan
of the landscape, executed by hand as slow as possible is mirrored to create a variant circuit. The mediated landscape swallows itself at its very centre whilst extending the horizon to the boundaries of the screen. The split screen becomes a single, symmetrical, perceptual field setting up an autonomy in relation to the linear faltering narrative. The landscape is constructed and dismantled as an island, as an expanding and contracting expanse, its utopian and dystopian impulse converging at its centre and dispersing at its periphery". In both videos the image synchronization, just applying a mirror effect in these cases, is fundamental to create a new visual dimension.

On the contrary, the no synchrony between the images is what Youki Hirakawa exploits in his video, which shows similar time lapsed clips arranged in different intervals between one and another, in both screens, resulting a new type of temporal structure. Instead, the time as unit is what organizes both screens in Mariane Abakerli's video, which shows at the same time two different parts of the same projector operating, its mechanism and the film, which we can see how it's being projected not by a image in the wall that we don't see but by its trajectory in the machine. Abakerli, choosing to work in this way in her video - synchronizing both screens -, does it "in an attempt to get all that we do not see, but anyway remains the idea of our impossibility to get two events that happen at the same time. We'll always choose one of the screens before. It's about become visible the human condition of visuality, but doing it by how work a simple machine, its place in the space and its internal mechanisms. Despite the visual characteristics are more remarkable than its possible meanings".

Synchrony is also fundamental in Mariana Markoska's work, in which we can see Bernard Shaw, through an early sound film (1927), who was used to live behind the cameras, to adress himself to a wider audience. Markoska repeats the same author gestures and speech creating a temporal lapse in the space, between here and the past. Through the differences, contrasts, between the screens, she also deals with questions like identity, authorship and gender.

Boldizsar Csernak-Risko's work shows the same action from two different points of view. We can see a lone female figure emerging from the distance approached by a male holding a camera. Their interaction presented in the split screen way enables the viewer to see the action from both a distanced and static view point and a gradually shifting camera view, which follows the choreography.

A similar game is played by {Vivimos del aire}=Bezeta+Plisotic, in which we can see how two figures are being followed in each screen and at the end they meet each other, a moment also represented by the fusion of both screens in just one. The video by Janko Katic & Kristina Kovacevic, Enabled/disabled, is also about the relationship between two people. Both protagonists are deprived of speech possibility, suggesting the communication between both do not need anything more than the need itself to stay in touch and maintain their relationship. The sound enables both disabled protagonists to be connected and thereby leave aside every other conventional way of communication. Movement and stillness, presence and absence, dialogue and silence are all in the work to let us think about the meanings of the communication.

Maya Watanabe makes use of the many possibilities of communication, such as audiovisual creation and more precisely film excerpts to do her work. By using dialogues taken from different movies in different languages, she puts the audio out of context and makes a new script in Abrasis. In each screen, in different places (places without any references), two actors play the script under the original playback, revealing a new narrative by the audio excerpts and exploring the relation between audio and visual matters. The split screen resource is precisely what allows Watanabe to overlap and to contrast this extracts.

Another way to construct a fictional space is that used by Patrizia Monzani.
In her video employes archive material from internet movie database (open source films) to tell in a subjective way the mankind history and its relationship with our planet, focused on the water resource. The split screen works to her in a way to reflect the duality which she has worked with in the video, like human-animal, human-nature, nature-industry.

All those videos investigate the resource that this exhibition is about, connecting it to the aims of each artist, a meeting between technique and contents which expects to be meaningful.

Participant artists:

Curated by Pedro Torres.


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