Comma, Pregnant Pause (2004) - Oliver Payne and Nick Relph



Excerpt from text accompanying Comma, Pregnant Pause:

A comma indicates a pause or break between parts of a sentence; in spoken communication, a pregnant pause is one that is full of meaning - significant - suggestive. This video features mobile phones, in whose text messages commas are seldom used. There are often, however, pregnant pauses during the wait for a reply. This work starts with the commentary:

'I want to be the best there ever was, to beat all the best that's my cause.'

The video is dominated by two seated people dressed as mobile phones. Their costumes are based on 'Mowbli', the ubiquitous mobile phone logo from Carphone Warehouse, and their faces are covered by scary-looking masks, taken from the popular series of films Scream, 1996, 1997, 2000, and Scary Movie, 2000, 2001, 2003, but originating in Edward Munch's painting, The Scream, 1893. Their conversation is indicated by two different text alerts - '1,2,3,4' and a musical sound, like a guitar or harp - whilst each text message appears as a series of subtitles. The conversations are fractured, featuring messages such as, 'the newest thing is now wearing the word'. Young people are part of a texting culture in which messages sometimes go astray, so spoken conversation would often be more efficient.