In a 1972 interview with David Lamelas, the curator and author Lynda Morris remembers, ‘When we were making Film Script … you talked about a scene from a movie such as John Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday, 1971, about scenes which do not give any information but create the feeling of a film.’ In response, Lamelas states, ‘In all movies you have scenes which just connect and do not contain any information’. Morris appears in both works shown here—as an actress in Film Script (Manipulation of Meaning), 1972, and as one of the artist’s London Friends, photographed in a shoot arranged with a fashion photographer in 1973. Both works disrupt the visual narrative they seem to promise and toy with the physicality and ‘feeling’ of both static photography and the moving image.
Film Script consists of a ten-minute 16mm film projected against a wall at home cinema scale. In the same room three slide projectors are set up to project their carousels of c.70 slides each, side-by-side against an adjoining wall. The slides repeat and reorder sequences of images taken from the film so that the viewer’s attention is drawn from the unfolding cinematic sequence of events presented on one wall to frozen moments of activity rotating on the other. Through this juxtaposition Lamelas explores ‘the many possible permutations’ of a set of connecting and disconnected images, studying time and space as he’d done in previous works such as Antwerp-Brussels (People and Time), 1969, a series of black-and-white photographs depicting isolated individuals on a series of streets, or the 16mm film Time as Activity, Dusseldorf, 1969, which observes incidental activity in three locations in four-minute takes. ‘Space has a reality… time is a fiction,’ as Lamelas once put it.
Of another 1969 work, A study of the relationships between inner and outer space, Lamelas notes, ‘the analysis consists of the relationship between a certain place-environment and its system of use’. The activities of the staff in the ‘inner’ space of the gallery were documented and people chosen at random in the ‘outer space’ of the city were interviewed about the ‘most important subject according to the mass media of information’ at the particular time when the interviews were recorded. Film Script involves a similar play on interior and exterior. Morris was gallery assistant at the Nigel Greenwood gallery where Film Script was made and first presented (Greenwood also took part in the celebrity-styled London Friends shoot along with Morris, Marcel Broodthaers and others). Morris is shown in her actual workplace, answering the phone and looking through papers, then venturing out into London, walking through a park, getting into and driving her car. As we follow this simple itinerary in a subtly choreographed and therefore seemingly natural progression of events she ignores us, until the final shot when she faces the camera. Although the three slide projections vary this sequence of events conceptually the ruptured narrative does maintain the ‘feel’ of a Schlesinger character study. These merely transitional scenes convey the period of the protagonist’s clothing, hairstyle and the type of car she drove, the subtle tensions of her workspace, the atmosphere of a London park as she walks through it at a particular time of day at a particular time of year, and this information is presented in sharp contrast to the swinging shots of Lamelas’s London Friends in the next room.
Caroline Woodley is a writer based in London