Too Far/Too Close: The Screen as Mediator

Various films from the recent EYE on Art ResearchLabs held in February 2018 dealt with the notion of the screen. Master students from the University of Amsterdam’s MA seminar ‘Curating the Moving Image’ have put together highlights of the recent ResearchLabs, combining them with material from the EYE Collection. An investigation into the relationship between the screen, the human flesh and the environment.

The screen functions as a mediator altering the relation between the human and its surroundings. In the digital age we need to confront certain questions: where does our body end and the screen start? How do the screen and technology limit or extend our human being? How do we deal with present versus absent actors?

When looking at the screen, a laptop or a mobile phone, one might not notice the surroundings anymore. Yet the screen functions as a window to other spaces or the bygone. The word ‘television’ originates from seeing things on a distance. The screen helps us to see the unseen. This is exactly what Michiel van Bakel investigates in his Forest Paths.

With the blank screen of Kees Hin and K. Schippers, we ask ourselves if the screen is merely a neutral surface on which images are projected. Or is it an active agent, framing how we relate to the contemporary world, as Sophie Dixon’s Untitled 2016 shows? How do we frame the world and what do we choose to archive? Rossella’s The Splintering Sun also reflects upon the ruins of time. What remains of our lifetime on earth if we can store our memories on a digital drive?

‘The screen’ is both an extension of the human body as well as its replacement. It blurs the distinction between the here and now and absent people, times and places. This theme becomes apparent in the video Zuidoost-Noordwest by Oded Rimon, a poetic dialogue between a projection and urban Amsterdam, visually bringing neighborhoods together.