Flesh Forming, 2020, is my second video work, following my 2019 film, Repetitions, where I first captured exercise footage and created a part rhythmic, part cacophonous video collage in a vein similar to Camile Henrot’s 2014 film, Gross Fatigue. Flesh Forming, composes a bridging of my practices’ contexts and concepts: straddling imagery that is visceral and expansive, clinical and guttural, arriving at completed artworks by leveraging the self creative capacities of material. This 4 minute film uses synchronized audio and video to bridge contexts of exercise, viscerality, the body as specimen, and repetition. Audio recordings of breaths performed during exercise paired with reverberating video of my painting practice capture an unfamiliar visualization of live flesh. These pairings are followed by staggered, jolting scenes of meat packing, painting, body scanning, and exercising. The guttural audio and violent images imbue the film with a discomforting, ominous intimacy, reflective of my bodily experience.
My motivations for Repetitions, 2019, derive from my particular considerations of the body as machine: human (bodily) action and activity as a creative force is mutually inclusive with release, extension, and exhaust. Gilles Deleuze speaks of Francis Bacon’s figures trying to escape themselves and the shadow(s) being an instance of the body’s escape back into/onto the ground: “The entire series of spasms in Bacon is of this type: scenes of love, of vomiting and excreting, in which the body attempts to escape from itself through one of its organs in order to rejoin the field or material structure. Bacon has often said that, in the domain of Figures, the shadow has as much presence as the body; but the shadow acquires this presence only because it escapes from the body, the shadow is the body that has escaped from itself through some localized point in the contour” (Deleuze, The Logic of Sensation, 16).
The setting of the film is a domestic garage, depicted with the intension of acting both as an interior space like that of the body or a cavity in the body and as a space for the body to act (release, extend, exhaust) via exercise in a manner that reflects both a body in motion and an unidentified life force. Here the Kunsttrieb, “the visible manifestation of an intrinsic creative force operating throughout the universe,” holds a major stake in the work, specifically as “human artistry is simply a more refined expression of the same primordial creative instincts which all organisms possess to a greater or lesser degree…a supra-individual vital force identical with the developmental processes of life itself” (Moore, Physiology of Art, 89).
Additionally, the mechanization of the body is implicit in the images of shadows moving along the floor, cast from the body operating exercise machines repetitiously. The captured pulsations of motion (shadows casting, primer bulb depressing and reflexing, motor vibrating itself along the floor) and audio (breaths, sloshing liquid, engine rumblings) merge the associations of body and machine together, alluding the banality, systematized, repetitious nature to bodily existence and experience. The implicit sexual associations is an intentional connection being drawn in the concept of creation and repetition: both present in the most banal (i.e. breath), eccentric (i.e. art making), ferocity (using/pushing the body at its physical limits), and pleasing (sexual) activities offered in human experience.