Mark Lewis

21 05 2008


I saw his work at the BFI Southbank gallery in October 07. He often uses strong effects, like the ‘vertigo shot’ / dolly zoom (or whatever you want to call it), playing films backwards etc, but the way he does it is very subtle. For example his piece Rear Projection featured the longest ‘vertigo shot’ I had ever seen, running at 4 mins. This length allowed you to fall into the scene, gradually pulled in by the effect. 


Rear Projection


My favourite had to be Isosceles, where a camera moves around a building in a move which wouldn’t look out of place in a hollywood feature film, but something is missing. There are no actors. We are following no characters, dialogue or plot development. What happens is the building becomes the subject, and what is often overlooked when watching a film, becomes the main feature. It is mesmerising to watch, and again a very simple but potent idea, executed with professionalism.





You should also check out my blog on Rosie Pedlow / Joe King – Sea Change



I have included the statement from the exhibition below.


“Mark Lewis’ films are remarkable not only for their rich and highly seductive qualities, but also for their extraordinary ability to question those characteristics that define mainstream and avant-garde cinema. This was Lewis’ first solo show in London and included three recent films shot in 35mm and transferred to High Definition, the latest technological innovation in video presentation. Lewis’ silent, short form films respond to the specific nature of the viewing subject of the gallery and museum space. This viewer, ambulatory, free and essentially privileged in the space in which he or she moves, has historically been formed very differently from the cinematic viewer. Therefore limited length, lack of added sound and the removal of most staging mise en scene, are the essential characteristics of films that attempt to engage with the gallery viewer and its history. The works on show highlighted how the artist investigates the ways in which the language of film has transformed classical art historical motifs such as portraiture and the depiction of landscape. Rear Projection (Molly Parker) – was co-commissioned by BFI and received its London premiere here. It investigates the canons of portraiture in relation to landscape images. Shot in Lewis’ lush, pictorial style, the footage of a desolate Canadian landscape is combined with a filmed ‘portrait’ of the actress Molly Parker – of Deadwood and Six Feet Under fame – by using the traditional method of rear projection, a technique commonly used in films up to the 1970s to shoot live action against a backdrop of seemingly moving images and now outmoded by blue screen technology. Lewis’ exploration of the depiction of landscape and how film language has developed techniques to follow the other pictorial arts is also evident in the recently shot Isosceles, 2007 and in Downtown: Tilt, Zoom and Pan, 2005 – both previously unseen in the UK. In the latter, the camera shifts its focus towards inactive areas and background details present in the shots. The work is created by filming two distinct pieces of film and joining them seamlessly together: one part was shot at dusk; the other (pan) was filmed in a clear morning. In this work the artist depicts everyday situations, actions and places while exposing methods of filmmaking process; using the latest digital image manipulation software he also suggests that the evolution of film and technology are intrinsically linked to other visual cultures.”






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