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Frame of Mind 2017

Text: Frame of Mind, Consuelo Cavaniglia

Framing, as a device, from cinema to photography, theatre to architecture, works to position you physically, visually, conceptually (and ideologically) in relation to a site of focus. The frame isolates a scene or a detail and suggests what perspective to take in relation to it.

The idea that depending on where you stand changes how you see something, is enticing for its metaphoric extension into psychological states rather than the more limiting connection to optical trajectories. The frame is a device that communicates to the viewer, a directorial note, it is a structural device that provides an entry point, connecting the viewer to a situation.

In Lucas Davidson’s exhibition titled Frame of Mind, the viewer steps into a space where a series of frames float. The frames are screens but despite the fact that projectors are present, the screens don’t frame a cinematic encounter. There is no fictional space that the viewer has access to through film, and though mirror-like, the work also does not present mirror surfaces, that trade in fiction through the reflected image – spaces that can be entered through the sense of vision but never engaged with physically through touch.

The floating screens bring us to what Beatriz Colomina describes as ‘the original surprise of glass architecture … the enigma that glass is not actually transparent’.[1] The screens simultaneously allow and block vision, they are transparent and reflective. Depending on where one stands, visual access is either allowed or negated and the constant switch between the two confounds our sense of vision and our sense of space.

The installation does not allow our relationship to the screen to be one based on predictable placements and fixed spatial interactions – where the viewer sits or stands in front of a screen and both are static – it entices the viewer to move through and around the work. The act of looking that these shifting frames establish though does not follow the trajectory of architectural investigation that Mies van der Rohe pursued. For Mies the building was a frame that foregrounded the very act of looking, he exposed the visual exchange between interior and exterior. In Frame of Mind, the choreography of shifting reflections, moving screens and circulating audience is one that surprisingly leads away from sight and back to an awareness of materiality.

The screens in this exhibition are simply sheets of double sided reflective film. Davidson has worked extensively with monitors, that in past installations have countered the disembodiment associated with digital interfaces, reasserting the physicality of the hardware. Moving away from these, the screens in Frame of Mind are light and floating. Though almost ethereal they are not immaterial – suspended lightly from the ceiling they do not fall smoothly but reveal creases and folds. Through what could be termed ‘imperfections’ in the material, we are made aware of its physicality. The screens are like nervous skins, that quiver at every movement of air, sending reflections and refractions shooting across the space. Though contrasting the heaviness of monitors in previous works, they similarly connect to considerations of materiality and physicality.

The projectors interact with the screens casting what seems to be fields of light, white shapes, across their surface and those of the gallery walls. The interplay of light and the nature of the installation – with screens, lights and tripods – brings us to liken the work to a set, a certain theatricality is established, but we are not sure where the action is located, there is no clear stage. And perhaps what we are witnessing is a site of rehearsal rather than a final performance. Indeed the nature of the installation, as an interplay of shifting elements in constant flux, means that the viewer will never see the work in the same way twice. The experience of the work is momentary.

If the act of framing is about connecting the viewer to a situation, then these floating frames direct the viewer to a situation centred on shifts, temporality and ephemerality. The focus is on the tentative nature of the point of connection – the skin, the interface – between two entities or the threshold between two spaces, real and imaginary, tangible and fictional. And in this instance the directorial note to the viewer is an open invitation to reframe and reposition the exchange.

[1] Beatriz Colomina, in Simpson, Bennett and Iles, Chrissie editors. DAN GRAHAM: BEYOND. Cambridge; London: The MIT Press. The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, 2009, p195.