State of Siege represents a point in a process of examination of the function of the screen as a mirror. Reflections are a part of our lives, visually and metaphorically. Our work brings together disparate reflected images to present a loose narrative of ritual and history in our culture.

Our choice of the chest of drawers as the focal point for the project allows us to create a kind of stage on which the performance takes place. We chose to fabricate an acrylic panel into which images could be back-projected. This provided the screen element.

Our footage combined staged photographic images of a mirror in a garden setting, with Anzac day ceremony prayers and marching.

Janet Frame’s description of the dawn inspired an investigation of the relationship between ritual and time. In particular the cycle of the day, gave rise to the idea of shaving. This simple task is intimate and at the same time reflective of the importance of the day.

“If I did not know or surmise more about the effects of light, I should say it was an instrument of peace: ¬†almost, the generosity of morning makes me believe this. ¬† The handout is unstinted, leisurely, calm, there is no rush, panic or stampede among the natural object for the restoration of their shape and colour: they receive it in good.”

The ritual of shaving is by necessity un-hurried, but is loaded with the expectation of the day. Frame’s words emphasise the gift of slowness in a way that denies human control over events. The inevitable passage of time is contrasted with the Anzac rituals which seek to delineate and clearly mark a point in our history.

Some unusual and interesting visual affects resulted from the back projection, with secondary reflection from the spill of light created additional imagery around the walls of the room. I was difficult to capture these aspects of the performance on video.

I found it satisfying to be able to use a control surface as a way of manipulating the video and audio output of the computer. Even though I was not responsible for that part of the performance, it was enormously freeing to be able design a way of having a performance without keyboards, or mice.

It became clear that the relationship between the two of us in a performance situation needed time to develop. Having said that, I was happy with the performance. Reviewing it later, I was happy that the work was open to a range of interpretations.

Robert Carter
2011