Inspired by John and William Barnes’ collection of early cinema apparatus and ephemera assembled since the 1930s and currently held at Hove Museum, Twixt Two Worlds takes the technique of double exposure and the visual effect of superimposition as starting points to explore the transition between still and moving image across photography, magic lantern slides and cinema.
Twixt Two Worlds is presented in association with Brighton Photo Biennial (BPB14) and curated by Gaia Tedone, Curatorial Fellow (South), as part of a yearlong fellowship hosted by the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society and Whitechapel Gallery in London. BPB14 runs 4 October - 2 November 2014.
The title of the display refers to the eponymous book written by John S. Farmer in 1886 on the life and work of William Eglinton, the famous medium born in Islington, London, in 1857. Eglinton is at once the subject and accomplice author of a rare group of spirit photographs on loan from the Brighton Museum collection.
This selection of original prints elucidate one of the most popular uses of the technique of double exposure and superimposition in photography, subsequently translated into cinema by British mesmerist, magic lanternist and film pioneer George Albert Smith (1864-1959) through his influential motion picture experiments.
In the exhibition at Towner, objects such as early cine cameras (c.1900) and magic lanterns slides (c.1850) sit alongside moving image works by contemporary artists like Douglas Gordon, Saskia Olde Wolbers and Jane & Louise Wilson. Here, the artworks further expand on the relationship between stillness and movement, sound and vision, screen and audience through the use of colour, sound, found footage and multiple projections, reinforcing the enchantment of the moving image.
Gaia Tedone, Curatorial Fellow (South) says, “My project developed from the study of the Barnes Brothers Collection of early cinema apparatus and ephemera at Hove Museum. I started by looking at the material there and I was really impressed by the works of the early film pioneers of the Brighton School, and by the relevance of the Barnes Brothers Collection in articulating the history of the transition between still and moving images.
“The inquisitive spirit of the collection led me to explore different areas of research and enabled me to find links to contemporary and historical works belonging to other public collections in the South East of England. Re-contextualising the historical material within a contemporary framework has been the greatest challenge of the project and also what made this experience unique.
“Having the opportunity to work in the vast gallery space at Towner enabled me to further expand the ambition of the project and include large-scale video installations by Douglas Gordon and Jane and Louise Wilson on loan respectively from the Southampton City Art Gallery and the Art Council Collection. I look forward to seeing how these additional works will shape the overall feel of the exhibition and dialogue they will have with Towner's distinctive architectural features alongside the historical material.”
Sanna Moore, Head of Contemporary Programmes, Towner says, “It has been great to work in partnership with the Contemporary Art Society, Whitechapel and Brighton & Hove Museum to bring Twixt Two Worlds to Towner. Gaia Tedone’s display includes the history and archive of early British Cinema combined with moving image works by significant contemporary artists. During the autumn, we will also be screening the 10 shortlisted artist filmmakers for this year’s Jarman Awards, so there will be lots to see for those interested in artists’ film.”