Things to Come is a research project that has resulted in three different outputs:
A solo gallery exhibition (Site Gallery Platform Commission, Site Gallery, Sheffield, 2011).
A 16mm film (b/w, mute, 6:00m.) premiered at Awed Into The Wide And Open, Todays Art Festival, The Hague, 2012 (programme included: Gordon Matta Clark, Steina Vasulka, Thom Anderson).
A 4,500 word peer-reviewed academic essay (Moving Image Review & Art Journal, issue 1.2, June 2012).
The project was based on the analysis and interpretation of unpublished production photographs of László Moholy-Nagy’s lost ‘future city’ model set designs and special effects commissioned for the 1936 science fiction film Things to Come, now held in the Moholy-Nagy archive in Ann Arbor.
FIELD OF KNOWLEDGE: In reconstructing Moholy’s model the project engages with recent attempts to restage and re-imagine lost, but key, moments in the history of modernism.
METHODOLOGY: This project is the first attempt to develop a sustained and focused analysis of the production stills, which were initially examined in order to draw detailed plans of the lost model. The resulting model, built live in the gallery, did not attempt to faithfully reconstruct Moholy’s designs, but rather re-imagined them using contemporary high-street objects sourced from Ikea, Muji, ebay etc. The film was then shot, freely interpreting the literary and graphic directorial guidelines Moholy appended to his published, but unmade film scripts. Filmed using a Bolex clockwork 16mm film camera, the re-imagined prismatic special effects were all constructed and filmed live - either in font of the camera by employing hand manipulated flying or moving objects; or in-camera (multiple exposures, strobe editing etc). The finished film is formed predominantly from extreme close-ups and abstract details to create a dynamic play of light, shadow, reflection, parallax, depth, surface and prismatic special-effects. These sequences are intercut with extracts from ‘set-piece’ takes, which occurred in the gallery in way very similar to short performances and suggest an intense choreographed but ad hoc activity.
An account of the project, centering on the historical importance of Moholy’s concept of “camera vision’ was then written. This essay included a strong claim for the way Moholy’s film shoot for Things to Come brought together and attempted to reconcile the worlds of commercial film and European avant-garde aesthetics.