Charting Time: Artists’ drawings for film and video

Serpentine South Gallery 9–31 Aug 1986 Free

This exhibition illustrated how film and video artists visualised their work before their films or videos ‘existed’.

The show consisted of artists’ drawings, notes and diagrams for film and video. The completed films and tapes were shown continuously next to these traces of their origins, allowing a rare opportunity to explore the evolution of artistic ideas.

Most of the work displayed was neither narrative nor wholly abstract, but took the form of an assemblage of different kinds of notation and information in a variety of mediums, such as drawings and charts, diagrams and photos, notes, and found images. Most of this material was made for private use. These works answered how film and video artists confronted the problem of indicating the passage of time and the development of movement within the composition, for which no conventional language of symbols existed at the time.

The selectors chose works to illustrate the great variety of working methods and techniques. Included in the exhibition were Marty St. James and Anne Wilson’s series of 20 small collage-paintings as a ‘storyboard’ for their Mills & Boon-inspired True Life Romance (1984), Jayne Parker’s hundreds of pencil line-drawings from which she selected sequences for her short animated film I Cat (1980), and Tim Cawkwell’s schematic drawings of the buildings and beasts of the mythical city Sforzinda (1977), before scratching them directly on to 16mm film.


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