Jerwood FVU

Lucy Clout

Selected for the Jerwood/FVU Awards 2014 2015, Lucy Clout used her first-stage development bursary to make ‘The Extra’s Ever Moving Lips’, which was followed up by major new work ‘From Our Own Correspondent’.

 

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From Our Own Correspondent, 2015
10 minutes, 23 seconds
Digital Video

Lucy Clout’s From Our Own Correspondent takes its title from a newspaper-industry convention whereby an article bought in from outside sources is indirectly attributed to the publication’s extensive network of freelance on-the-ground reporters. Made up of extracts from a series of interviews with contemporary media professionals, Clout’s video turns our attention to the writers and bloggers who are their present-day equivalents, and extends its focus to a number of behind-the-scenes figures whose devotion to the digital/online format is transforming the way that news is presented and consumed. Honing in on the day-to-day minutiae of their work, Clout shows how the journalistic art always implicitly requires an act of self-effacement – to better position the subject in the clearest possible light – while also exposing how the rolling deadlines and precarious, casualised conditions of today’s 24/7 news business create a pressure to perform and a need to deliver that continually eats into all aspects of life.

As if to make that point, Clout’s exchanges are set in a number of anonymous hotel rooms; often the places where media interviews themselves are conducted, where confidential sources are met with, or where final copy is filed. They are also places to relax, where we can kick off our shoes, and ‘be ourselves’, yet which remind us how much our recourse to these temporary oases of comfort and convenience (so easily forgotten the morning after) both substitutes for and blurs with our idea of home; a place with its own messy compromises between living space and work space, and its own uneasy collisions of the personal and the professional. Like pop-up message alerts on a laptop desktop on which an article is being constructed, flashes of text appear from out of the ether: over the view from hotel windows, over shots of featureless corridors; interrupting and semi-distracting from the interviews themselves. Glimpses of the people we might be when we are not lost in work, these snippets of information - White Woman, Single, 37 - advertise other personae, in other online correspondence. Interspersed with the presence of a computer-animated alter ego, who seems alternately disapproving and complicit, they are like updates from an endless personal newsfeed – the background story, so often unseen, that nevertheless shapes and determines the people we are.

 

The Extra’s Ever-Moving Lips, 2014
7 minutes, 40 seconds
Single channel video

Background actors are supposed to stay in the background. Expected to be both visible and invisible, extras are required to do something very close to nothing – nothing, above all, that will in any way distract from the leading actors’ performances. Sometimes, though, as we seek temporary distraction from our own lives in the surrogate dramas of TV soaps, a face from the shadows or a gesture from the margins may force itself forward, and, once noticed, start to dominate a scene. Lucy Clout’s prototype work The Extra’s Ever-Moving Lips pivots on one such moment from a popular Australian television series. One of those things that stay at the back of our minds, then sporadically surface in our memories, these fleeting encounters would normally merit no more than a second thought; not only ephemeral but irretrievable. Now, of course, post-Internet, we can search for them online; which Clout does, tracking down one particular clip, before enlisting a lip reader to enlighten her about what is actually being said, and recruiting a contemporary soap star to recite the lines. Although this story of pursuit and discovery seems to act as the foreground focus of the work, Clout’s wider objective, signposted perhaps by the sprite-like animated figure that beats a mercurial path through this beguiling patchwork film, is to shed a warm, indulgent light on the background noise of contemporary life. Hymning the low-level hum of everyday chatter and witter, Clout finds within this overlooked hubbub of incidental, throwaway expression a quietly enduring measure of the people we really are when we are not busy pretending to be someone else.

 

The Extra’s Ever-Moving Lips (2014) and From Our Own Correspondent (2015) were commissioned for the Jerwood/FVU Awards: ‘What Will They See of Me?’. A collaboration between Jerwood Charitable Foundation and FVU, in association with CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow and University of East London, School of Arts and Digital Industries. FVU is supported by Arts Council England.


Video


Image Galleries

Stills, ‘The Extra’s Ever Moving Lips’

Jerwood Space, 12 March – 27 April 2014

Stills, ‘From Our Own Correspondent’

Jerwood Space, 11 March - 26 April 2015

CCA, Glasgow, 30 May - 12 July 2015


Audio

Resonance FM talks to shortlisted artists for the Jerwood/Film and Video Umbrella Awards

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