‘Quick, Quick, Quick’, curated by Pryle Behrman.
Bemoaning the pace of modern life – and firmly linking it to the end of intelligent reading / intelligent conversation / intelligent life as we know it – is a complaint that has (perhaps surprisingly) a rather long history.
The New York-based journal The Medical Record proclaimed: “It is, unfortunately, one of the chief characteristics of modern business to be always in a hurry. In olden times it was different”. That was in 1884. Found within William Smith’s Morley: Ancient and Modern (published in 1886) is a similar warning that: “Men now live, think and work at express speed”, going on to lament that people on train journeys “sulkily read as they travel… leaving them no time to talk with the friend who may share the compartment with them”. If humanity has long felt that life is inexorably speeding up it has also long sought alternatives. Not surprisingly, these have frequently involved advocating the benefits of slowing down, as proclaimed in the Slow Food Manifesto signed in Paris in 1989 by delegates from 15 countries. But perhaps it is also possible to use speed against itself, fighting fire with fire.
This exhibition in the Art Projects Screening Room, titled Quick, Quick, Quick, can appear to pander to the pace of contemporary living, as it brings together a selection of animated GIFs, films and videos that all, individually, last for a very short period of time. However, on close inspection, the artworks on display are using brevity to, perhaps counter-intuitively, ask the viewer to give more time and look for longer.
Some of the exhibiting artists embrace the ‘Lumiere Rules’ first proposed by Japanese organisation remo in 2007 (videos should be no more than 1 minute long, with a fixed camera, no sound, no zooms, no edits and no effects) to reveal the poetry hidden within scenes that could easily have been hastily skipped over. When short videos are compiled together, as seen in the selection curated by Kerry Baldry (all taken from volumes 1-9 of her ‘One Minute’ series), the succession of intriguing, engaging vignettes builds up to a slow meditation on the diversity found within this artform. As well as being the 30th anniversary of London Art Fair, this year is also the 30th year of the invention of the animated GIF file format, which artists have, since its creation, used to extend brief, poetic statement into infinite loops, generating absorbing, gently-hypnotic images from the simplest (and shortest) of means.