A Nontraditional Medium

By Jo Phillips

Video was only just introduced to the art world about 50 years ago, so it’s a new medium to say the least. Since then, film has come a long way and evolved into a legitimate art form full of creativity, experimentation, and innovation.

The Film London Jarman Award recognizes artists who work with moving image and has become very prestigious. This year, the work of the shortlisted artists is extremely diverse in subject and style. And although all six people on the shortlist work with moving image, like any other artists who work with the same medium, they each have their own distinct style and reason for choosing film as their way of conveying what they have to say to the world.

The thing about film is that it is accessible to many people- more so than any other medium. Adham Faramawy, who is on The Jarman Award shortlist, explained that film is “the most populist [medium] form.” He continued by saying, “It reaches the most people and it’s the most diverse in function spanning genre and intention from long form narrative to advertising.”

Adham Faramawy, Janus Collapse, 2016 – excerpt from Film London on Vimeo.

Fellow shortlisted artist, Oreet Ashery, had a similar opinion on the subject. She said, “Art video is also a form that can be groundbreaking as many people who don’t necessarily see art still watch movies and TV. This way, video art can feel more familiar and accessible.”

Oreet Ashery, Revisiting Genesis – Episode 5, 2016 – excerpt from Film London on Vimeo.

Video has the ability to be made into something completely different and innovative. “Once we come away from the conventions of narrative fiction, from the industry and its hierarchies,” said Melanie Manchot, “films of any length can perform across different methodologies. I would argue that artists’ moving image practice operates across these different traditions and conventions- challenging them and their implied hierarchies.”

Melanie Manchot, Out Of Bounds, 2016 – excerpt from Film London on Vimeo.

Like drawing or painting, artist film is a very broad medium and can be executed in many ways. As technology has grown, the field has grown with it, and slowly but surely, film has become a respected and common art form.

Project officer at FLAMMIN Film London, Marta Michalowska, said,Artist film or artist moving image used to be niche not that long ago, but now, in the early 21st century, it is a key and exciting art form.” The medium is constantly changing and becoming more and more common in the art world. By creating art with film, artists “have the capacity to break conventions and make work that doesn’t sit comfortably with traditional storytelling”, explained Michalowska.

Overall, moving image art has come a long way- in the past few decades, especially. And with awards like The Jarman Award, these artists can be recognized and given a platform to share their ideas and work.