The Telegraph
Monday , June 22 , 2015

Four videos, four stories

Paul Holmes with (left) Scott Furssedonn-Wood at Studio21 on Saturday. Picture by Arnab Mondal

British director Paul Holmes loves Calcutta and keeps coming back to it. No wonder, he chose the city for his first solo video art exhibition.

The exhibition at Studio21 is titled Outside the Box, after the "most ambitious" of the four projects on display. It depicts the facial expressions of the four members of Scandinavian guitarist Haftor Medboe's jazz band during a rehearsal.

Holmes completed the video in 25 minutes, shot with four cameras and assistants. "This was shot in February and is the most visceral of all my projects. While shooting the band members in close-up, I saw the loneliness in their eyes. They are on their own journey," he said.

Holmes's art has been a personal learning experience as well. "Since this genre does not follow any strict rules of narrative, you don't know where you are headed when you start. You end up having a dialogue with the piece, an intellectually nourishing experience," he said.

It is this journey that has been traced in the Time Machine, where the artiste shot his facial features in slo-mo for two days.

"It was winter in Scotland. I looked at myself in the mirror and hated the signs of ageing on my face," shared Holmes.

Surfing the internet, Holmes came across several articles and books on facial exercises that are said to defy ageing process. Using a high-speed camera, he shot some such popular facial workout. The high-contrast monochrome cinematography is suggestive of natural forms and landscapes.

The third project on display at Studio21 focuses on the obsession with text messages. The Persistence of Vision is the story of two French kids fighting over a mirror that they find. The tale is told through text tickers. At another level, it is like an instruction to an artiste on how to make a film, only the film never gets made here. The images remain in text form.

"It shows how we would rather communicate through text messages though it is a poor way of communicating. It also talks about so many scripts (including mine) that never get made into films," adds the artiste.

For someone who prefers not to sync his videos with sound, his fourth work - These Measures Are For Your Protection - has both sound and colour images. It focuses on photo booth snaps, stress and travelling.

The show was inaugurated in the presence of Scott Furssedonn-Wood, the British deputy high commissioner in Calcutta on Saturday and will be on till July 3. "It's nice to have an artiste who challenges us. Paul's work is so engaging," said Furssedonn-Wood.

In Calcutta till August, Holmes has a gift in store for the city he loves - a video project that will blend A uld lang syne and Purano shei diner kotha. "It will give me an excuse to return to the city again, in winter," signed off Holmes.

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