In March 2012, CIRCA Projects presented a newly commissioned solo project by Benedict Drew for the latest instalment of the CIRCA Site programme, as part of AV Festival 12: As Slow As Possible.
Benedict Drew uses the apparatus of film, video and music to test and reflect upon the relationships we have with technology and its oscillation between the exalted and the commonplace; between desire and the redundant. For AV Festival 12, Drew created a new installation, ‘The Persuaders’, located within The Stephenson Works factory, Newcastle upon Tyne. Taking its point of departure from AV Festival’s theme ‘As Slow As Possible’ (after John Cage), Drew deconstructs the sensory act of viewing and listening. He looks to cultural phenomena surrounding experimental music, with particular interest in the dynamics of free-form expression and cultural detritus of moving-image.
Within The Stephenson Works, the world’s first locomotive works, visitors are taken through a ghost train-like series of brief encounters. Sculptures and machines take on, sometimes friendly, anthropomorphic characteristics and these unlikely combinations of clay, construction timber and ephemera are fused with the electrical pulse of computer technology to catalyse and transform the obsolete nature of analogue media.
Drew’s immersive installation bathes the viewer in sound and image, inducing feelings of calm and well-being by appealing to our human sensory and cognitive responses. The Persuaders imposes a pace onto the audience, experiencing the work in a series of confrontations. ‘A single screen video gives breathing instructions that will induce a sense of calm and well being, sculptures act as empathetic mascots, faces will greet you with a smile, old technology will mimic slightly newer technology. A complaint about the world will be lodged.’
The Persuaders was originally conceived for an exhibition at James Taylor Gallery, London in 2011 and is curated and produced by CIRCA Projects for AV Festival 12: As Slow As Possible, 1 – 31 March 2012.