Emma Hart and Benedict Drew

Emma Hart and Benedict Drew are in the ICA Theatre on Monday 16 June at 8pm.

The collaborative work of Emma Hart (born London, 1974, lives in London) and Benedict Drew (born Kyneton, Australia, 1977, lives in London) returns cinematic experience to its constituent elements of image and sound. Exposing the interdependency of these two elements within a live setting, Hart and Drew orchestrate events informed by their respective expertise. Although both of the artists actively pursue their personal practices - Drew's background of musical composition and experimental sound, and Hart's interrogation of the still and moving image - the pair collaborate without hierarchy or specific roles.

Working together since 2005, the artists' have produced four collaborative performance works to-date: Untitled 1. (2005) through to Untitled 4. (2008). With nods to the history of 'expanded cinema' and artists' film (both Richard Serra's Hand Catching Lead, 1968, and David Lamelas' 1960s and 70s films are echoed in their practice), Hart and Drew transform the 'black box' space into a notably mechanical and sculptural environment. All of the performances take the destabilisation of the moving image as their start and end point. In Untitled 1., for example, loose white washing powder lies in the cone of a speaker. The sound of the live projector fan plays through the speaker and the powder is moved in time to the audio. This movement is captured on camera and simultaneously projected. This technical process produces an image which is at once hypnotic and epic, while also challenging the usual precedence of cinematic visuals over scored sound.

This Mobius-strip approach applies increasingly to the artists' collaboration itself, and is visibly intensified in their subsequent work, Untitled 2. (2006). One artist loops clear and black 16mm film leader between a film projector while the other, illuminated in the beam of the projector, extends the same ribbon through the strings of an electric guitar. In an abrasive performance, the guitar is dramatically recast as a mechanical extension of the filmic apparatus. The film strip is drawn across the metal guitar strings like a violin bow, as the projector simultaneously produces a flashing beam. The performance appears as if in a zoetrope or filmic countdown, to the soundtrack of a relentless score. The event becomes a test of endurance as well as a precarious endeavor: a willful misappropriation of tools to the point of their physical destruction, ending with the final snap of the film reel.

While this antagonistic device was extended in Untitled 4. (2008) into a physical tug-of-war between two film projectors pulling at a tangled pile of 16mm film on a central table, in Nought to Sixty Hart and Drew will be presenting Untitled 5., a series of new works which foreground their collaborative process. Using both domestic and industrial equipment, the artists' playful and structural interventions will reveal the physical connections between the productions of sound and light - and their mutual reliance.

Isla Leaver-Yap