AND IF IN A THOUSAND YEARS (2017, 22 MIN)
When the film-set for Cecil B DeMille’s The Ten Commandments had had its day, it was, like the biblical civilisation it evoked, lost to the sands of time – in its case, deliberately buried, in an act of money-saving expediency, under the dunes of the Southern California desert where the movie was shot. Over the years, though, those shifting sands have gradually exposed this piece of epic landfill, bringing souvenir hunters to gather where archaeologists (or Egyptologists) used to tread. In Patrick Hough’s video, shot on location at the site, it is not just fake fragments of the past that are disinterred. What hovers over the place is a spirit of uncertainty; one that questions bedrock values like ‘originality’ and ‘authenticity’ and dusts them with other layers of meaning: the extraordinary ease of reproducibility, the spray-on glamour of cinematic semi-celebrity. This spirit of uncertainty is encapsulated by the figure of a sphinx – once part of the décor of the majestic film-set, now wandering in ghostly limbo; haunting the nearby town like a wildcat on the prowl. The sphinx’s hybrid form and cryptic, enigmatic presence is also a symbol of a blurring between the material and the virtual that Hough’s video not only proposes but visibly enacts, using sophisticated digital scanning techniques to suggest the outline of a new technological horizon that is, even as we look back nostalgically at the remnants of earlier eras, writing its own name upon the sand.
Commissioned for the Jerwood/FVU Awards 2017: Neither One Thing Or Another, a collaboration between Jerwood Charitable Foundation and FVU. FVU is supported by Arts Council England.
Patrick Hough― Artist
Patrick Hough (GB, b.1989, Galway, Ireland) is an artist living and working between London and Ireland. Incorporating moving image, photography and installation, Hough’s work explores the relationship between cinema, technology and museums through an archive of historical film props. Questioning the relationship between humans and objects (both virtual and physical) his practice reflects upon the way in which cinematic images are indelibly embedded in our perception of history. His new research centres on Irish Bio-archaeology, marking a shift in focus from history as represented in cinema to raw archaeological matter in itself. He received his BA in Fine Art Media from NCAD, Dublin in 2011 and his MA in Fine Art Photography from the Royal College of Art, London in 2013. He is a recipient of the Jerwood / FVU Awards 2017 – a major £20,000 prize for emerging artists working with moving image and the 2017 PLASTIK Award at PLASTIK Festival of Artist Moving Image, Dublin.