The Gaze | Lee Henderson

Lee Henderson, Borne back, ceaselessly, video still.

What do we look at – and why? In The Gaze, an exhibition of experimental, or narrative-based, interactive short films, eight artists present engaging and thought provoking interpretations of “looking.” View the videos on the digital screens in Mississauga Celebration Square! Screening schedule is on the AGM website.

Over the next few weeks, the AGM blog will feature guest posts by The Gaze artists, revealing the conceptual framework behind their videos.

Borne back, ceaselessly by Lee Henderson

Much of my work to date has treated mortality as its subject, constituted as both the persistence of collective histories and the brevity of individual lives. Currently, I am investigating the word medium, and its oscillation between signifying electronic means of communication, and one who communicates with the dead—every medium, therefore, is somehow between here and there.

Borne back, ceaselessly is a video designed for public display, that aims to bring discourses of class and surveillance to bear by invoking a motif from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (the novel from which the work takes its title). Videotaping my own eyes on autofocus, I fooled my camera into doubting its own algorithm, forcing it to continuously oscillate between focal lengths as it gazed into me and I into it; it alternates between “looking” past me and directly at me.

In Fitzgerald’s masterpiece about class consciousness and the preference for illusion over reality, the round-spectacled eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg are used as a proxy for a bodiless, immortal gaze which cuts through appearances and forgets nothing. This idea of a secular, all-seeing, empirical eye has stayed with me since reading the novel for the first time in high school. I suspect the motif provides a clue as to why cinematic adaptations of The Great Gatsby are doomed—the novel is about the unreliability of appearances, and cinema is after all constituted entirely by appearances. Nevertheless, I am interested in how the camera, far from being bodiless or immaterial, has its own limitations of software and hardware; in this sense, the camera suggests that all gazes are subjective… even technological ones.


About The Gaze

The Art Gallery of Mississauga, in partnership with the City of Mississauga’s Culture Division, publicized a Call for Artists to submit proposals of experimental, or narrative-based, interactive short films. A total of 8 works were selected that helped define, broaden and contribute to the philosopher Jacques Lacan’s concept of distinguishing between the eye’s look and THE GAZE.

View the schedule on our website.

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