Jason Shulman: PHOTOGRAPHS OF FILMS
The research of the London based sculptor and photographer Jason Shulman reflects around the categories of space and time by exploiting the mechanisms of vision, obtained through expedients of distortion, superposition or cancellation of perception.
Through simple optical procedures or the manipulation of the function of the media that he uses, Shulman’s work focuses on the reception of reality mediated by devices, as is the case in his cycle of works Photographs of Films, a collection of long exposure digital photographs that portrays the integral projection of some masterpieces of cinematography. From the reproduction of films such as A fistful of dollars (1964, directed by Sergio Leone), TheGreat Beauty (2013, directed by Paolo Sorrentino), Suspiria (1977, directed by Dario Argento), The Gospel according to Matthew(1964, directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini), or La Dolce Vita (1960, directed by Federico Fellini), the artist captures shots that are able to give back the feeling of the duration and the dynamic sense of the film through extending the shutter speed and through the visual effect of motion blur, a particular blurring obtained by applying specific filters. The artist had already experimented with this technique, characterized by the impersonality of the execution, in 2014 for the winter Olympics in Sochi.
Shulman borrows the underlying assumption of his language from cinema, reproposing the idea of temporal compression of the long sequence shots: as in a cinematographic long take, real time overlaps with the narrative of the film, in Schulman’s work the synchronic flow of the projection of the film overlaps first of all with the timeframe of the plot, with the execution through the photographic medium and finally with the instant vision captured by the viewer’s eye, which is the point of arrival in a pyramid of temporal rays arising from the image matrix of the film. But the temporal level is not the only layer to be affected by Shulman’s actions: from the medium of film to its reproduction on a device, from the lens of the camera up to its transposition on canvas, the artistic result is developed as a hybrid work that also embodies a transmedia quality.
Some scenographic and photographic choices also significantly affect the final aesthetics of each work: Salò or the 120 days of Sodom is for example a film mainly characterized by scenes shot indoors, as suggested by the architectural setting of the final work. For A fistful of dollars or The Great Beauty favor instead a greater chromatic specificity and focus less on architectural incisiveness, probably influenced by the prevalence of ocher in the colour tone of the large desert areas of the west or the green of the Roman landscapes.
This concept ultimately requires an overall complete fruition from the viewer, which has a structural attitude or a gestalt approach – as Shulman himself likes to define it. It is the mechanism of interactions that stimulates a mnemonic and synthetic vision of the artist’s work, so the viewer is forced from time to time to project his memory on the mechanical memory of the work itself. In this sense, Shulman’s intention is to focus his attention more on how than on why, introducing a reflection on the mechanisms of perception and the consequent repercussions they have on experience and memory.