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women, shot on film, is slowed down to such an extent that each individual image sequence is no longer read in the context of the previous and following one, but rather as an autonomous frame in and of itself, positively loading it with meaning. Narrative cohesion is dissolved in favor of the «presence of the moment.» In his film «Bear» (1993), Steve McQueen also works with manipulations of time. Cliplike camera angles, which spotlight details, fracture any overarching narrative references. Narrative elements fail to muster themselves into a plot, so that any meaning ultimately remains concealed. Steve McQueen thus brings the process of observation itself, or more precisely, the process of sensory production into the center of his works.
In «24 Hour Psycho» (1993) Douglas Gordon significantly slowed down Alfred Hitchcock's «Psycho.» He uses this device to override the continuity of the events, making it impossible to read what was once a coherent story. The relationship of the various actions to one another is dissolved, so that the dramaturgy and the psychology of the characters lose their reference points and are dissected into narrative fragments.
Jeffrey Shaw achieves a comparable effect in «Revolution» (1989) by accelerating the images while at the same time radically slowing down the movement of the viewer. Here, the viewer becomes user, turning a video monitor with the help of a wooden handle on its own axis. This sets images in motion that show the revolutionary events between 1789 and 1989. Even when the user moves very slowly, the images change so quickly that they flash past. Despite the greatest of efforts, only those events can be deciphered that are already anchored in an individual's knowledge of history.
In this procedure of using historic narrative fragments, there is an intellectual proximity between the works of Stan Douglas and those of Jeffrey Shaw. Historical elements serve both artists not as references to the story they tell, but for their function for us as a cultural form of communication. They show less what they mean to us than what they can no longer mean for us. Or they evoke a meaning that is suppressed today and that is no longer possible. Historical