This October, FACT will premiere Echo, an ambitious new installation, by the artist-filmmaker Mark Boulos. Echo will be the centerpiece of a solo show of Boulos’s work, and is presented as part of the 2013 Abandon Normal Devices festival.
Echo marks a significant technical and formal development in Boulos’ practice from his previous documentary-style video works, which represented revolutionary militancy and religious ecstasy. Echo was commissioned and produced by Forma in partnership with FACT, with development and production supported by The Wellcome Trust.
Echo will be a large-scale immersive video installation presented in FACT’s Gallery 1 in which viewers will encounter a ghostly ‘reflection’ of themselves – that moves and speaks as they do in real time - but transposed upon a documentary background of an urban landscape. As the viewer continues to observe their doppelgänger, time is desynchronized and spatial perspective is distorted and broken, inducing a feeling of disorientation, alienation and anxiety.
The work combines neuroscientific research with innovative video techniques–including Hitchcock’s vertigo-inducing ‘contra zoom,’ and the 19th-century stage-magic illusion ‘Peppers Ghost’–to produce an innovative three-dimensional effect which can be seen with the naked eye.
Inspired by neuroscientific and psychoanalytic theories of embodiment and selfhood, Echo has been developed in collaboration with Professor Olaf Blanke, Director of the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Brain-Mind Institute in Lausanne. Prof. Blanke has pioneered research to induce out-of-body experiences in test subjects.
Echo will be presented alongside three of Mark Boulos’ previous video works.
All that Is Solid Melts into Air (2008) is comprised of two large-scale videos and presents two communities at opposite ends of the world - from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, to the Niger Delta in Africa - each locked in a struggle to control oil. Oil surrounds us on a daily basis, and yet we are scarcely aware of its source or presence, when refined into commodities. Boulos’ installation makes visible the mechanisms of this process of abstraction, and the brutal political-economic conditions they conceal.
The Origin of the World (2009) - an play on the Gustave Courbet painting of the same name - is a experimental self-portrait realized through psychoanalysis, theatrical fiction and narrative deception. In this video, the artist filmed his face reflected in his own eye while under hypnosis.
For the three-channel documentary video No Permanent Address (2010), Boulos spent eight weeks living in the Philippine jungle with two guerilla squads of the New People’s Army, a Communist insurgency designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU and USA. No Permanent Address examines the persistence of communism beyond its supposed death, nostalgia for lost idealism, and the relationship between feminism, love, and militancy. No Permanent Address is, then, about the other side of terrorism: when poverty and desperation meet love and idealism, and turn violent.
A programme of related talks, films, events and a symposium on Friday 4 October with guest speakers including Professor Olaf Blanke, Mark Boulos and Yann Chateigne will accompany the exhibition as part of the Abandon Normal Devices festival 2013.
The development and production of Echo has been supported by the Wellcome Trust. The presentation of Echo has also been supported by the The Mondriaan Fonds, Pro Helvitia, and The Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation.