The Port

Richard Whitlock

Richard Whitlock, The Port, 2015, HD video, 8 min. loop, ca. 3m x 5m.

The Port is a silent video that depicts cranes loading and unloading ships in the harbour of Thessaloniki in Greece, and people strolling along the quay. At first glance it looks like a normal film, but it is in fact made up of many fragments of looped video and still photographs arranged in a flattened orthographic projection – like a moving painting rather than a film.

This work continues the artist’s enquiry (see Photomediations Machine 18/5/2014) into the effects of non-standard perspective configurations on our experience of photographic images, a viewpoint that has been constrained until now by the perspective of the camera lens. Yet digitalisation now affords the photographer the opportunity to make changes in this standard central perspective. The challenge, taken up in The Port and in Whitlock’s previous work, The Street, is to alter perspective in the moving image.

Many different ‘times’, many parallel narratives, can now coexist on a single screen. The Port has about 40 layers, one for each object, or sometimes two. For example, the sea is not one sea but rather two superimposed layers of waves. Time is thus enriched, being both circular (loops within loops) and multiple (many layers and speeds). This intrigues the eye, giving the feeling of seeing something for the first time.

The objects could of course be synchronised, and made to follow a regular rhythm, like a soundless music, but the artist has chosen to maintain the characteristic irregular pulsations of each type of object, intervening only minimally in the phasing of the cranes and the grouping of the strollers on the quay.

Richard Whitlock (b. Liverpool 1952) has made sculptural, graphic and photographic installations in many parts of the world. Dissatisfied with photography as a means of adequately representing these works, he began making photographs and films in unusual ways, avoiding the central perspective natural to these media. This by-work became a major preoccupation, leading to non-perspectival photographic and video installations in Helsinki, Grenoble, the Crimea, Taipei, Thessaloniki, Athens and New York. He lives in Greece.

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