© Generali Foundation Collection-Permanent Loan to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Repro: Werner Kaligofsky

Dan Graham

Body Press, 1970-72

Film installation 2 films, 16mm, color, silent, synchronous projection on 2 opposite walls 8 min (loop) Edition 2/3 + 1 A. P. Performers: Susan Ensley, Ed Bows
Two filmmakers stand within a surrounding and completely mirrorized cylinder, body trunk stationary, hands holding and pressing a camera’s back-end flush to the surface cylinder of their individual bodies while slowly rotating it about. One rotation circumscribes the body’s contour, spiralling slightly upward with the next turn. With successive rotations, the body surface areas are completely covered as a template by the back of the camera(s) until eye-level (view through cameraman’s eyes) is reached; then reverse mapping downward begins until the original starting point is reached. The rotations are at correlated speed; when each camera is rotated to each body’s rear it is then facing and filming the other where they are exchanged so the cameras’ ”identity”—changes hands—and each performer is handling a new camera. The cameras are of different size and mass. In the process, the performers are to concentrate on the coexistent, simultaneous identity of camera describing them and their body.1 Optically the two cameras film the image reflected on the mirror which is the same surface as the box (and lens) of the camera’s 5 visible sides, the body of the performer and (possibly) his eyes on the mirror.2 The camera’s angle of orientation/view of area of mirror’s reflective image is determined by the placement of the camera on the body contour at a given moment. (The camera might be pressed against the chest but such an upward angle shows head and eyes). To the spectator the camera’s optical vantage is the skin. (An exception is when performer’s eyes are also seen reflected or the cameras are seen filming the other.) The performer’s musculature is also seen pressing in to the surface of the body (pulling inside out). At the same time, kinaesthetically, the handling of the camera can be ”felt”, by the spectator, as surface tension-as the hidden side of the camera presses and slides against the skin it covers at a particular moment. The films are projected at the same time on two loop projectors, very large size on two opposite, but very close, room walls. A member of the audience (man or woman) might identify with one image or the other from the same camera or can identify with one body or the other, shifting their view each time to face the other screen when cameras are exchanged. (Dan Graham) 1 The camera may/or may not be read as extension of the body’s identity. 2 In projection what is seen by the spectator.
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