Video and multimedia works by Laura El-Tantawy.
— Read on

When Laura El-Tantawy published her In the Shadows of the Pyramids work, I was impressed by the video presentation, including the narrative in her own voice. I had a look at her website to see if there was new work.

I found the powerful piece, Beyond Here is Nothing. In this post, I’m concerned with the video production of the work. This wasn’t done entirely by the artist herself as the credits show other names for multimedia productions. A sign that this is not straightforward to make as a professional production.

The images pulse rhythmically on the screen, only present for a second or so. They are projections onto the black space of the screen – making no attempt to fill it but stand as photographic images projected onto a dark space. This works very well, conveying something that is photographic. It also doesn’t make me think ‘slide show’. Images appear in different positions in the dark space, creating a dynamic movement on the screen without panning or zooming. Some images appear side by side (they are mostly a portrait aspect) – there is consistency in their placement across the screen, so the comfort of knowing what to expect.

The sound track includes ambient sounds across the production space and Laura’s voice centered. ‘Best listened to with headphones’ indicates that care has been taken over the stereo placement of sounds. It is immersive but I found myself not listening to the words after a while, they became another part of the the overall sound scape. The sound of a voice rather than the meaning of words.

Watching this has particularly influenced me in the use of the black space as a screen for projection of images. As if within a darkened cinema. I suspect some may complain that the space is too dark and they would prefer white (like a photobook), however, the specificity of video involves darkness and shadow. The projection of whiteness from screen to eyes is a distraction from the image and uncomfortable to the eyes, like a blaze of light. In my next experiment, I’m going to embrace the darkness rather than try to mask it.