James Ravinet

James Ravinet, Proto-studio, 2013

James talks about his work ‘Proto-studio’ on the 4D pathway which was nominated for the Nova Awards 2013.

CSM’s Nova nominees are put forward by their Course Leaders and represent the very best talent across the degree shows. Here, James provides an insight into the work which earned him a prestigious Nova nomination.


“This work encompasses a four channel digital video installation. It features three projections visible on the surface of three free-standing rear projection screens and a video viewable on a square/cube broadcast monitor. These videos depict an unfamiliar and absent scene that is set in location of a film studio. Across four visual planes, the viewer identifies three modes of cinematic/moving image apparatus: the camera, monitor and chair for a receptive, yet absent, subject. The video is contextualized in the space of it’s own production (the film studio) which is evident to the viewer rather than concealed. A simple, yet confusing, illusionary method is employed to create a sense of movement or image manipulation with the use of a two-way mirror film. Rather than to allow the viewer to become passive to this illusion, they are invited to engage with and understand the images conception. To an extent, the production space inflicts upon the physically installed space that we encounter. This is meant by the presence of the cube monitor which not only displays a self-referential image of itself; it is also present in all four videos.

Seemingly, we are aware of the images production, and that we are viewing it through the eyes of a camera. The green standby insignia found in the top centre of each video is a signifier of this. Principally, the premise for this work is in the idea of disarming the formal strategies of moving image. By this it is meant that the work attempts to delineate from employing attributes that make a viewer passive to a produced fiction of reality, or a representation or record of it. Its concerns with this are present in the manner of how it refutes the concealment of an images production. Instead, the filmic apparatus is foregrounded, and in part become the protagonist of the video. This has in part been informed by the notions of Bertolt Brecht’s Epic Theatre (1936). Specifically this refers to his technique of Verfremdungseffekt or the alienation effect. An alienation of audience that reorientates them by breaking any sense of illusion, allowing them to take a critical view in full knowledge that they are watching an actor, and thus do not become passive to the effects of production. For instance, Brecht would experiment with plays in which the actors would directly address the audience and he would leave the internal mechanisms of an instrument or lighting in full view. This, along with Proto-studio, is accumulated in the central idea that the viewer is to take a critical stance in reception of a didactical scene.”