Public Display of Affection

Manuel Saiz

2008, 04:54 minutes, colour, English


Installation Documentation from Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle (UK), May 2008, 4 minutes 54 seconds. Clips of participants: 6 minutes 31 seconds.

Public Display of Affection
is a combination video installation and live art project aimed at audience participation. A dedicated automated film set records spinning travelling scenes allowing visitors to perform scenes of affection in a very Hollywood style.

The concept is based on a cinematographic technique of commercial films widely used in features after the sixties that consists of a circular movement of the camera around the subject, usually in conjunction with blurry light and orchestral music. It is mainly used in scenes that mean to be an important moment of spiritual elevation, such as big achievements, mystical findings or the apotheosis of love. In many of the scenes in which this effect is used the subjects are the two main characters of the film finally kissing after they overcome a row of reversal circumstances.

The installation consists of a film set with a video recording device that reproduces this cinematographic effect for the visitors who want to participate. Couples stand in the set and are recorded with film lighting, orchestral music and circular travelling while kissing, hugging or cuddling in front of the camera. Dedicated software manages the timing in which the camera starts recording, lights dim and music fades in and out. Standard takes last for 30 seconds. The images are recorded on tape and shown live on a monitor. The recording represents a “moment of fascination” for participants and audience.

Public Display of Affection reflects on the image of the world and the perception of reality we have through the narrational devices of the media, and about the concept of intimacy in the public realm. It gives participants the possibility of an experience on the limits of reality and fiction. 

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