Essays
Published in 3 different nights, recurring, IMMA, Dublin, ISBN: 978-1-909792-15-9

Scripts, jolts, lucidity.

Rachael Gilbourne

I am standing, eyes tired of looking, waiting for the next screening to appear. It is dark among the small crowd huddled together on the grounds of the artist Grace Weir’s home. A summer’s night in rural Ireland, feet pressing into mulched grass. The screen flickers and an image of our surroundings appears. It is a mirror-image of this place, but transformed into the brightness of white daylight – a snow-scene within the enclosed valley. The artist steps into view and walks towards the same area of the valley where we now stand. Picking up a branch, she traces lettering into the deep snow. The camera cuts close to reveal what has been written: the words ‘slow dissolve’. And then again closer – a microscopic shot of the tip of one of the frozen letters. Here, the clear snow crystals become visible to the eye, minutely dissolving.

As a viewer that night
1, the cumulative effect of such an apparently simple sequence of shots, a work of less than three minutes long, has the impact of a blow. At once physical and psychological, it’s a sensation of both expansion and collapse, a folding over of one’s sense of gravity as time seems to turn upon itself. The interchanging contrast between the reality of the now and the reflection of this place onscreen – of darkness to light, noise to silence, public to private – bridges the viewer across worlds. In that moment, past and present appear to coalesce.

Not only does the screening of the work, Script (5) Whiteout (2010), achieve its original intent here – to make tangible the meaning of words – but within this context, the piece also makes tangible the complexity of place and time. It captures in an instant, a sudden precise movement forward and back, from the lost memory of Weir’s solitary action to the audience’s collective experience of the present.
Such revelatory moments are typical afteraffects of viewing Weir’s work, with her knack for provoking jolts of consciousness through acts of exquisite simplicity.

Script (5) Whiteout is the final in a series of five short films made between 2009 and 2010, which include Script (4) A fold in time (2009); Script (3) Winter studio (2010); Script (2) Time-out with Albert (2009); and Script (1) Summer studio (2009). Each centers on the making of words, a single word or phrase each time, performed by the artist. The series seeks to play out – through the medium of film – the meaning and textuality of these words through strategies of self-reflexivity. Many of the words reference filmic terms or the activity being filmed. In Script (5) Whiteout, for example, ‘slow dissolve’ is the term for the technique of transitioning between camera shots, a technique used within the piece itself. A critique of film is happening here through filmmaking, a mimicry, but also a cross-referencing of text to organic matter, as seen in the process of the melting ice crystals.

The Script series approaches word as experiment, word as process. Each ‘script’ functions as an artist sketch created within Weir’s studio. In retrospect, now in 2015, parallels of thought can be traced from these earlier ‘sketches’ to Weir’s newly commissioned films. The series is a precursor for what the artist has since continued to delve into, the seeds for future research, culminating in the depth of thinking we find within 3 different nights, recurring. My own awakened moment activated by Script (5) Whiteout is echoed back in Weir’s words as she describes her new works; on The history of light (Betelgeuse) - “the temporal boundary between what is present and what is past is captured”; on Future Perfect – “Time forms the work without being material”; on Darkroom – “I am interested in the relationship between reconstruction and photography, both attempt to fix a moment… The two different streams, one filmed in the original space and one in the reconstructed space, are shown side by side forming an ambiguous entity whose lucidity comes in and out of clarity”; and finally on Black Square – “…the film travels to the edge of comprehension, exploring the dynamic between what can be understood and what cannot, a mobile threshold where intuition meets calculation and the oscillation between darkness and perception at the edge of representation…”

1—Gracelands, curated by Vaari Claffey