A large state-of-the-art LED screen, familiar from major sporting and corporate venues, is placed in an otherwise empty gallery overlooking the 2012 Olympic stadium. Up close, the screen appears as a technological grid of pulsing, coloured lights; from further away the separate points of light merge to become recognizable as an image. Between the image and the screen is a zone that corresponds to the liminal space in art between abstraction and figuration, and in science between perception and cognition.
Examining the spectacle and hyperbole that accumulates around sport, The White Bear Effect presents a highlights reel of golden sporting moments – game-changing, record-breaking achievements now preserved in a kind of limbo, to be endlessly replayed in video’s ghostly hall-of-fame.
One of the functions of a screen is to obscure what lies behind it. Yet in this installation the screen presents a shifting interplay between the illusory and the actual. Moving freely around the screen, the viewer can take a range of subject positions, including spectator, observer, and performer.
Named after ‘the white bear effect’, in which the attempt to eliminate negative images in favour of positive ones paradoxically causes those unwanted associations to return, the piece illuminates how the thrill of sport, like the feeling of being ‘in the zone’, is fleeting. Existing almost wholly in the moment, despite our best efforts to capture or distil it, it remains elusive and impermanent.
The White Bear Effect was commissioned and curated as part of ‘Everything Flows’ by Film and Video Umbrella and De La Warr Pavilion. Supported by The Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England.
The exhibition is staged with additional support from The White Building, University of the Arts London and University of Brighton.
Screen provided by LED Screen Hire Events UK Ltd.