The Truth Effect

By Andy Thomson and Tanya Eccleston


Experience in it's primary sense extends to a phenomenological principle; the practical, theoretical and cognitive trying out of reality (1). Space cannot be known unless it is experienced as a context, and not be experienced unless our position within that context is acknowledged in relation to it. To have an experience then, is to be both within it, and at the same time know it to be true.

In effect, reality is realised through a process of perception. In art, this unfolds through the conventions of representation and presentation. DVS makes the shift from the representational priority of surface to that of an interface with surface, space and time by conjuring an inclined and planar zone of viewing. In the form of the experiment, reality's fidelity is checked through sight and the sensate. This is an experiment in process, not a demonstration of a theory or given reality. The work is not the result of a practice that rehearses principles, but one that reveals itself as an 'acting out' of the process of seeing and believing. Seen in this way, truth happens in the space of presentation, and 'reality' is an effect of representation.

Still life is the original arena of seeing and believing. The still life painter's language is that of fact, constructed through processes that create likeness, and ground 'truth' in the materiality of existence. Like the painter of still life, DVS pitches his work at a level of material existence where nothing exceptional should occur, in a space outside of narrative but well within the pictorial frame. The work moves from the still, pictorial space of painting to conflate real time and space with the recorded time and space of video. The painterly values of scale, colour, weight, and composition are used within the video sequences to frame our expectations within the conventional freedoms of pictorial representation. The illusory space of the video is used as a test site; a space where the conceptual order and stability implied by materials and objects becomes a ground upon which to exercise our credulity, our understanding of the veracity of visual and physical experience. It is in this context that the camera makes the actions, objects and their configurations true to life. Verisimilitude is achieved through action's complicity in the logic of cause and effect; what goes up must come down. The sequenced action and measured play of materials are held as real, by the frame of the lens. Illusion is implied rather than actual. It is by gathering the gaze for movement that the videos escape the imperative of signification, and of narrative. Not because the way we view is controlled in any particular way but because this field of moving images prevents the fixing of sight.

In this manner, DVS points up the complicity of art's representational language in the construction of visual experience. He conflates both the structural and phenomenal aspects of perception so as to make both object and subject dependent upon the perceptual context of reception. Within the space of the presentation, and the space and duration of the individual video sequences, he evolves this approach through playful models of representation. The work not only reveals the camera's capacity to manipulate perception, but also demonstrates the artist's role in coercing vision and media into language.(2)

DVS responds to the new spaces of ACCA by reinstating, and realigning the square of the white cube in the form of an inclined plane, contextualising our experience both historically and reflexively. The angled platform functions as a physical equivalence of the picture plane, orientating the viewer's engagement with the work and the space of the gallery. The field of the viewing plane is interspersed with a set of images and actions that make visibly actual, our collective and constructed (mis)apprehension of the seen.

Within this defined space, DVS orientates the viewer as subject by staging an experiment; a play of visual and material action that thwarts momentarily, our capacity to see the real as an illusion. As the subject of these reality tests, the work points up our complicity in the structuring of illusion (and reality). In our benign consumption of imagery we comply with his conjuring, and a roll of tape at once becomes a circle within a circle, a figure eight and a wheel accelerating along a horizon line.

This playful investigation of ordinary looking, re-evaluates artistic agency and questions the very activity of making art and the authority of its representational language, in depicting experience. In this way, the work affects our acts of seeing and believing and lures us towards an experience of the given world that is unreliable. Seeing the unfamiliar in the familiar, a capacity for recognition and understanding is encouraged by a state of uncertainty; it builds a receptivity and an openness to truths not yet formed, not yet in consciousness. The effect of this work is to resonate with our perceptual faculties, evoking a praxis of truths.


Andy Thomson and Tanya Eccleston March. 2003

(1)Paul Ardenne Experimenting with the real; Art and reality at the end of the twentieth century.pg 12.
(2)"'To make seen what makes one see and not what is visible"' - that is the task of painting after Cézanne' David Wills quoting Lyotard (The Sublime and the Avant Garde 1991) in Deconstruction and The Visual Arts pg 75