Depictions

Depictions - 13' 57", stereo - © 1986

Background

Depictions is a travelogue through the nature of representation. In mock-documentary tone, it surveys a range of curious mass media phenomena by investigating and commenting on a wide range of topics - from National Enquirer psychics to Italian porn fumetti to BBC weather maps to orange mango fruit juice drink. Flippant, didactic, Pop and trashy, Depictions is an audiovisual 'essay' typical of many → ↑ → films and videos of the time.

Credits

Designs, editing, post-production & soundtrack - Philip Brophy

1990

Calgary University Gallery, Calgary

1988

ICA, London

1986

Roslyn Oxley Gallery, Sydney
Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne

Overview

The ideas for Depictions were jotted down after overseas trips between 1983 and 1985. In mid 1986, they were collected with the concept of formalizing these random observations into a collection of ruminations on how images are constructed and how representations are formed. Rather than developing any grand semiotic theory, the idea was to simply list, notate and respond to the images themselves. Accordingly, a single image was appropriated, designed or collaged to accompany each spoken text, as if presenting a slide-lecture. These single images were then filmed on lo-band 3/4" U-Matic video, and fed through a Fairlight CMI video synthesizer. Rather than use the then-'state of the art' technology to demonstrate its wondrous capability, only the most rudimentary operations were employed. In particular, the machine's propensity toward pixellization was embraced for its corrupting effects - which synchronizes to the spoken text's core interest in how images themselves are part of a ceaseless form or self-corruption.

Technical

Breakdown

Print media

1. National Enquirer psychics
2. Detective photos
3. The New York Times front page
4. Zora comics

Cartography

5. The shape of Australia
6. BBC Viatel weather map
7. Map design
8. Map usage

Signage

9. Supermaket magazine holders
10. Orange Mango fruit juice drink
11. Art theory journals
12. Fun!
13. Bad drawings of famous people

Future Depictions

14. Gendered toilet signs
15. Self-reflexive fashion label
16. Letraset 'wildstyle' graffiti
17. Oriental Ronald McDonald