Dominic Redfern

A Lump of Self

catalogue essay, Westspace, Melbourne, 2007

If you met yourself some where, some time, what would it be like? Maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal. It’s not like you’d be meeting your truly best friend (that would peg you as insecure). Nor need it be an occasion for induced self-loathing (ditto). Ultimately, your supposed ‘self’ is just another bit of you, a distracted fragment which can cling to your consciousness at one moment, then slide into insignificance the next.

There’s nothing special about the Self because there’s nothing special about you. Your compulsions, quirks, ticks, fixations, obsessions – even your pathologies are modular variations of the identikit drafted for any psych assessment. Consequently, any splitting, multiplying or fracturing of the self – of ‘you’ – is nothing to get worked up about. You’re no Norman Bates, no matter how many times you think you’re ‘going crazy’ each day. You’re just a lump of you.

In Dominic Redfern’s videos, the Self is never anything but split, multiplied, fractured. And there’s never any discomfort. His works wryly and dryly poke his ‘self’ through a series of formal doublings, mirrorings, replications. Moving between single screen videos featuring composited footage of himself performing with himself, to multi-channel videos which shift his performance across screens, Dominic’s self-regeneration initially appears to result from the studied practice of video’s extant history of imaging the artist upon and within the screen. But Dominic’s videos are extractions from a much broader mediascape, wherein precision of semiotic divination is no longer operable. Who is the real Dominic Redfern? Dominic’s videos could care less.

So much media – from faux-humanist arthouse product to myopic-masturbatory video art – claims to capture the Self like it’s some tragically endangered species in the televisual ecosystem. From manipulative Hollywood sagas based on real personal tragedies to limp investigative docos made by marginalised cultures now spot-lit in internationalist art biennales, the Self is projected as a living breathing figure hovering on the screen. “This is me – I am you – you are here with me”: on it drones as if anyone is listening.

Dominic – whoever he is – is gracefully absent from such desperate measures to alchemically project ‘a real person’. Oppositely, Dominic’s insertion of his ‘lump of self’ is not merely playful, but refreshingly empty and calming. It’s like he’s not even there.

Text © Philip Brophy. Image © Dominic Redfern.