10 ms-1

  • 1994
  • Douglas Gordon
  • 16 mm film transferred to video (PAL, black-and-white, silent, loop), duration 10:37 min.; front surface screen, metal frame and pole
  • duur / duration 00:10:37
    (schermgrootte / screen size) 229 x 304,5 cm
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1995
  • Inventory number 2147

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For '10 ms-1' a large screen is set up in a metal frame, slightly leaning backwards, inside a dark exhibition gallery. A black and white film is projected onto the screen with the following content. A man dressed only in his underpants stands a few steps away from a hospital bed in a bare room. His head and shoulders are not in the picture, and the bed is only partly visible. The man takes a few steps back, then forward, to and fro, and then falls down. He is out of the picture for a moment, but then the camera shows the whole of him. He has caught himself with his hands and rolls onto his back. He sits down and makes many attempts to stand up, but in vain. At the end he is lying down on his back again, slightly moving his head, but then remains lying still. The film comes to an end but immediately starts again. The images are rather jumpy and the film is of poor quality.

For this work Gordon used film which was made at the beginning of the twentieth century for medical purposes. In this case it concerns observing a man who is unable to remain standing, not because of a physical disorder, but as a result of psychological trauma. Gordon transposed the original film onto the video, slowing it down. As a result of the larger than life-size projection and the way it is set up in the space so that the screen can be seen from both sides, the viewer is confronted with the struggling man in a very insistent way. The viewer can only watch, impotently. With regard to these sorts of works, Gordon said: “I hoped that people would be surprised about being confronted with this sort of material and that it would be presented in such a way that they would start thinking about a whole series of questions.” Exactly which questions these might be depends on the interests and sensibilities of the viewer.

With the title '10 ms-1' Gordon was referring to the laws of the British physicist Isaac Newton, who made discoveries in the field of forces in relation to speed and moment. This work by Gordon is about physical forces. However, physical forces are subordinate here to psychological forces. Therefore Gordon was referring to the relative nature of these forces. He was intrigued by the question of which mechanisms direct consciousness. In general it was his intention to destabilize the viewer and confront him with things that are recognizable and with which he can identify, but which also have something unexpected and are therefore often uncomfortable.

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