Monday, 7 March 2011

On Marcus Coates' 'The Trip'

All travel is retrospective. We don’t travel for the experience – most traveling time is spent waiting, after all – but in order to have something to remember. The easy editing abilities of digital photography have transformed utterly the modern idea of travel. It’s all peaks, no troughs: the past perfect. Journeys only really exist once they’ve finished, and every story starts at the end.

The Trip is a 35-minute film by the artist Marcus Coates that consists of two long, still shots of the same thing: the interior of a room in a hospice in north west London. You see a flat-screen TV, a wall-lamp, and a window giving onto a quiet suburban road. In one of the shots, the day’s color drains, barely perceptibly, from the sky. In the other, the morning’s light is still, steady, the sky windless. Unseen between the two shots, each one lasting the duration of a dialogue heard on the soundtrack, is the event of the title: a trip to the Amazonian rainforest, which is discussed in voiceover in both parts of the film. The disparity — both comic and poignant — of what’s seen and heard is part of the point. The trip, undertaken by the artist, is plotted in the first section and recounted in the second. Nothing of the trip itself is shown: it happens in the two men’s dialogue and in the mind of the viewer. The trip was proposed by one of the men, a terminally ill man named Alex H., and was carried out and described by the artist.

Read the whole article here.

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