Close Up

23 September 2023: Content Anxiety: Programme One


Mysterious transmissions, long-forgotten video posts, frozen images lodged in the mind, animation erupting from the unconscious; this selection of films highlights the work of four artists, each operating with a highly distinctive and personal approach. With a shared interest in the tension between imagined and lived realities, the works in this programme explore subjective experiences of space and place – real, imagined and virtual – across a breadth of cultural backgrounds and perspectives.

Followed by a Q&A with the artists

Content Anxiety
Duncan Poulton, 2019, 4’42 min

Stemming from an online search of ‘Why I Quit YouTube’, Content Anxiety appropriates voices from anonymous teens' YouTube videos. Perhaps inadvertently, these final posts on their now forgotten channels express the vulnerabilities and paradoxes surrounding cultural production in an age of media saturation, perpetual storage and self-branding.

Adonia Bouchehri, 2018, 12’23 min

What happens when you suddenly realize that the space you are moving through, which structures your behaviour, is a space foreign to you – a fact that you were previously blind to? The images passing through us leave their traces and structure our thoughts and feelings. However, these images often possess a fleeting nature and seem to vanish from our minds. Perhaps these images don’t truly disappear, but rather become frozen in the depths of our minds, present and yet inaccessible. The film engages with the question of how images come to influence and structure our behavioural patterns without us necessarily having a grasp on them.

Adonia Bouchehri, 2020, 11’53 min 

Jello revolves around a character who lives in isolation within a room where she both works and sleeps. Her sole companions are two animals: a kiwi bird and a turtle, each holding significance in her confined world. Her interactions with a large jelly-like rat and the peculiarity of the object, along with its unique material qualities, disrupt the meticulously controlled environment of isolation and obsession she has constructed. Jello delves into an intermediate realm situated among reality, imagination, and memory, showcasing the intertwinement that occurs between them.

If You're Watching This Now Then This Is for You
Duncan Poulton & Sally Beets, 2022, 1 min

Pairing a poem that encapsulates the ‘doomscrolling' experience of watching TikTok clips with an overlapping video collage of uncanny digital images found online, If You’re Watching This… focuses on the experiences of anxiety and insomnia fed by social media.

Telekinetic Pleasures
Daniel & Clara, 2018, 8 min

Artefacts of psychic transmissions captured on videotape in a VHS fever dream of bizarre scientific experiments on humans and chickens.

Duncan Poulton, 2016, 2’12 min

Tunnel is an attempt to reorganise elements of found visual data, visualising the process of journeying across the internet using footage gathered through that very process.

Fragments (2020-22)
Edwin Rostron, 2023, 17’10 min

Sixty micro-animations made during the Covid pandemic, very spontaneously and quickly, using whatever was around in my studio – drawings, paintings, photos – and mostly shot with my phone. Made for the sake of making something from nothing, to break through the fog. Coming out of the pandemic I realised that I had produced a wayward mass of work without really intending to. Seen together they represent that period of time in a way I hadn’t anticipated. They are not really films, just fragments, from a fragmented time. In June 2023 they were screened with a live improvised accompaniment by Apartment House at Café OTO in London, and the recording of their performance now features as the work’s soundtrack.

Help Desk
Edwin Rostron, 2023, 3’10 min

A mysterious transmission revealing playful geometric possibilities. Help Desk is a hypnotic hand drawn animation, providing a meditative and contemplative space, oscillating between flatness and depth, control and instability. The film was made using an improvisational process of “straight ahead” animation, and was primarily an attempt to regain some much-needed focus after the fragmented years of the pandemic.

This is the first of two programmes to accompany the group exhibition I'm Here but I'm Not a Cat at SET Kensington, running from 22nd Sept to 1st Oct 2023.

This programme features strobing which may affect photosensitive viewers