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Moving Image

Tim Skinner

My work is an honest examination of escapism, idleness, depression and loneliness brought on by the lockdown. An aesthetic interrogation of our entrenched devotion to Newtonian time, cohabitating with an examination of the current systemic data-collection approach by the NHS towards mental health.

Graduated BA Hons, Fine Art, Colchester School of Art (Essex, UK), 2003; recipient of the inaugural Cuckoo Farm Studios Graduate Award (Colchester, Essex), 2003-04. My work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, working on projects with organisations such as Arts Council England, Firstsite, Essex County Council, ICA, CADE (Centre for the Arts and Design in the Environment), Canolfan Y Celfyddydau Aberystwyth (Aberystwyth Arts Centre), and Cyngor Celyddydau Cymru (Arts Council Wales).

Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Moving Image

It was on March 16th 2020 that I left London, realising that this exodus would result in me having zero means of word processing and zoom calling, in haste I purchased a cheap Chromebook from an Argos in Fulham Broadway. My first response to the lockdown would be a piece titled Traeth (which is Welsh for Beach). The work consisted of a series of short frame-lapse recordings made within my lockdown room over a seven day period - an honest representation of escapism, combined with foreboding desolation of reality, a stark contrast to the vibrancy of London and the RCA. Using the Chromebook for video editing was simplistic, basic and also cumbersome; through some persistence the desolate piece I had envisaged came to light. Traeth would become an embryonic piece for my studies.

As the virus storm turned into a blizzard we all sheltered, we holed-up, we waited it out. An eerie crisp dawn beckoned, a raw dark event horizon, spawning fresh ‘pre’ and ‘post’ dual parlances; pre-covid, post-covid; pre-lockdown, post-lockdown. As confinement continued to rumble, the ‘pre-covid’ or ‘pre-lockdown’ discourses faded, submerged in a dense fog - a strange bizarre sensation of feeling like the events of a month ago actually occurred many years ago. Time was behaving obtusely, our new cave-dwelling internment was crystallising our inter-relationship with structured time. The suppressive, coercive weekly linguistic loop (days of the week) mutated, becoming irrelevant, null-and-void, obsolete. Certainly from my own perspective from the outset every day radiated that melancholic, dreary Monday feeling, the week refusing to splutter into motion. Constant exposure to bleak global news helped to commission, to certify, to authorise one’s own dark thoughts. Dwelling on one’s own mortality became my step one in the book of how to deal with a pandemic; reviewing ones own life was step two. Whilst listening to Robert Macfarlane’s Underland (via audiobook) a line ironically glows brightly, “Here in the shadows, space and time spill into one another”. When normal life is interrupted and paused, time’s choir sings an array of diverse pulses, without rhythm, and we can start to listen to time’s true identity.  

Pre-lockdown my work had been drenched for years in dialogues surrounding repetition. I was fascinated with multi-layered aesthetics and mesmeric semantic-satiation, but through the bleakness of my fresh reality, repetition would be stripped back to its underlying component flow, ‘time’. My aesthetic focus shifted too interrogating that interplay between constructed time used to govern our existence (which later I would dub as being ‘anthropomorphised time’) and the poetic breathing complexities of organic time; mechanic versus organic.

The Psychological Corporation

Due to recent ill health, the NHS ran several tests, the final test being a three paged form originating from corporate America entitled Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). On reading this poorly constructed form, anger and sadness grew - this seemingly brutal approach to mental health troubled me. The form originates from an organisation called The Psychological Corporation - this is Big Pharma’s approach to mental health, the antithesis of capitalistic systemic order and data collection. Serendipitously this form created a new layer to my practice, a fresh commentary on the struggles of lockdown faced by many. So to incorporate this into my practice I wanted to resonate that bewildering brutal and melancholic starkness of the form, so started to read it aloud.

This American organisation also own a chain of cinemas....

Medium:

Video

Size:

Dur; 23:23
How Have You Been Feeling The Past Few Days

Time was behaving weirdly during lockdown, days were feeling pointless, blurred and were constantly amalgamating, absorbing into each other. Becoming a Zoom animal has been hard for many, though it has been great as a source of connection and discussion during lockdown - occasionally a smile through politeness hides the difficulties of coping with depression. This piece echoes these frustrations, overlaid with the line from the Beck Depression Inventory 'How You Have Been Feeling The Past Few Days'.


'Time is never time at all, you can never ever leave....’ 

Billy Corgan

Medium:

Video

Size:

Dur. 25:37
Pre-Present:Mid-Future:Post-Past
Pre-Present:Mid-Future:Post-Past

Pre-Present:Mid-Future:Post-Past was created for the CAP online festival Everything Forever. This composition is a collage combining several works, each component layer illustrates different time structures - the loop, the cycle and the chaotic; the layers commune with each other, both jostling and merging. Pre-Present:Mid-Future:Post-Past also maintains my own reflections of lockdown; idleness, melancholic repetition, and escapism. The title itself is packed full of dialogue and symbolism, a state of mind brought on by the lockdown. 


‘How long is forever?’ asks Alice.‘Sometimes, just one second’, replies the White Rabbit 

Lewis Carrol


Medium:

Video

Size:

Dur. 12:44
1. The Beady Eye
2. Traeth
3. Reflecting Rovelli (detail)
4. #5669 (Experiment)
5. Untitled (3rd Reading)
6. Untitled

1: The Beady Eye

2021, Paper, Pencil, NHS

In Darren Aronofsky’s 1998 film Pi, the lead character Max says ‘Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers’ which I would reply ‘theoretically yes, but should we?’, why is there this constant need for order?


2: Traeth

2020, Video, Dur: 06:14

This was my initial response to lockdown, created using a Chromebook and Android technology, currently being exhibited in Aberystwyth.


3: Reflecting Rovelli (detail)

2021, Drawing

The contemporary Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli would become a key influencer within my practice. His 2016 book The Order Of Time discusses the problematic reasoning behind Newtonian theory, this is the theory that our current measurement of time is based on. We actually have very limited number of perceived scientific facts or grounded acknowledgements with regards to time; one that is recognised is that time moves faster on top of a mountain than on the plains. Now why this happens is still a mystery, though what it does show is that time is not a given, we are surrounded and consumed by ever-changing micro timezones. An aesthetic comparison could be to think of leaves on a tree blowing in the wind, a diverse array of moving tone, where each leaf is unique though as a collective they are one.

Carlo Rovelli discusses how we came to be where we are with our linear time set-up, he talks about a shift in mentality in which we went from treating time as a series of inter-connected events (a truer representation) to viewing time as a thing. This shift meant time could be perceived as controllable by man. Rovelli beautifully suggests that the cosmic dance performed by the Hindu god Shiva is a more accurate depiction of time.


4: #5669 (Experiment)

2021, Video, Short Excerpt

Whilst contemplating the important question of duration, a full 24hr, 7 day photographic time-lapse recording was instigated, a lockdown epic during the week of my 40th birthday. At the end of the recording I was left with thousands of photographs.

Frustration for me occurred when transferring the images across to the computer; in an instant the computer ordered the photos into a regimented image sequence, a process that felt coercively systemic. Not wanting to pander to this, I set about randomising the order of the photos and randomising the length of time for each photo. To achieve this required hand-placing each individual photograph onto a timeline. With 5,669 photos the process was labour intensive though one which added value to my research. Through engaging with this activity physical repetition was pronounced. Simultaneously highlighting the imbedded ordained linear constructs inherent within the moving image practice.


5: Untitled (3rd Reading)

2021, Video, Dur: 11:56

This piece was a pre-runner to the piece 'The Psychological Corporation', in total I recorded 6 read throughs of the form, this was the third.


6: Untitled

2021, Video Still

Evolution of composition, experiments with colour and Rovelli drawing.