Against Lethe

Rebecca Thomas (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


International Conference visual communication abstract – video in response to ‘against Lethe..’ in.ef.fa.ble. Politis Gallery in Nicosia, Cyprus
My presentation will focus upon recent video pieces made in collaboration with my colleague at the University of Hertfordshire, Alan Clark, whose ideas and artworks share some interests that overlap with my own. This new body of work-in-progress currently goes under the provisional title in.ef.fa.ble, and engages with ideas and experiences of water, flow and drift, in part foregrounding analogies between the fluid and translucent-to-opaque medium of video art and the natural forms of water, whilst also taking account of the parallel movement of time, conventionally considered as a stream or “narrative” sequence of events. Within these broad concerns the work also attempts to engage with a variety of other issues. These include the implications and rhythms of reading implied by the conscious presentation of fragmented imagery when confronted within work in which fourteen moving images are presented simultaneously within the framework of a single screen display. Such multiple imagery raises question of hierarchy, margin and centre, the directing and redirecting of the viewer’s gaze, and information overload, the latter a key concern within contemporary culture. The work also utilises the overlay of text upon and adjacent to the grid of images, and adds, along with a possible soundtrack, yet another layer of information for the viewer to process.

Part of the background to this collaboration involves an investigation into personal memory, including my own childhood memories of sitting naked in a river, being conscious of the effects on the body of such immersion, as well as of the differentiated zones of what was above and what was under the water, together with the coming to the surface of certain aspects of this liquid “landscape”. Thus some interest in the hidden and the revealed, the repressed and the externalised is implied. More specifically, how can subjective memories and feelings be conveyed through works of art (in this case video, an increasingly common and accessible technology)?

The collaboration has raised a wide range of concerns, and some of these will be discussed in the presentation: the rhythms of the body in relation to those of the medium of video; the importance and effects of language and text within selected video work (Roland Barthes on text and image, Jean-Luc Godard); the compositional structure of the video image; Jean-Francois Lyotard’s idea of “driftworks” and their implied openness of reading/meaning. Feminist theories of language (Irigaray and Cixous); the nature of artistic collaboration, its positive and negative aspects.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputFilm
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2013


  • Visual communication


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