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James Rielly

Punch

New Art Projects, London

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Artist
James Rielly
Title
Punch
Year
2014
Duration
10 s
Format & Technical

Single channel, colour, sound
10

  • Produced by: James Rielly
  • Postproduction: New Art projects
  • Animation: James Rielly
  • Special thanks: James Rielly, Tim Hutchinson, Fred Mann

If we summarise the historical accessibility of producing moving images, three crucial points stand out. At the end of the 19th century, British photographer-researcher Eadweard Muybridge created the first frames of images in motion. The goal of his research was to resolve the debate concerning whether or not all four of a horse’s hooves are airborne at any given point while galloping. Unable to be perceived visually without the aid of technology, this question was answered thanks to the invention of chronophotography. In 1965, the first portable video equipment and electronic image conservation and production technology were put on the market. Technology then ceased to belong exclusively to television. At the end of the 20th century, in 1997, the marketing of mobile phones with built-in cameras was another milestone in the process of making new media widespread. Today, the phone we carry in our pocket allows us in just a few seconds to make a video in real time, one that includes pop effects, bunny ears, leopard masks, and applications that imitate the aesthetics of moving frames. This last technique, which developed its own aesthetic, consists of continually reproducing a sequence of images to create the impression of movement. Today we call this a GIF, the digital version that replicates Muybridge’s analog technique.

Punch presents a series of animations in which the graphic image—perhaps one of the oldest techniques in the creation of visible images—undergoes a movement technique. The result is the continuum of representations we see, their aesthetic bearing references from Muybridge up to the GIF format.

Continually reproduced movement generates a certain hypnotic effect and, as we see in our daily life, an anesthetic or numbing effect with regard to the content. Rielly shows us disturbing images of abuse, violence, absurdity and expressionlessness: someone throwing a fit on the floor, a cockroach, people breathing in plastic bags, a boy who hits his bloody nose and then smiles, two people taking turns to hit each other in the face. These disturbing images are consumed again and again in GIF format. These disturbing images are consumed again and again in real-life format.

Melina Ruiz-Natali

Stills