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Radio Mania: An Abandoned Work - BFI Southbank

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A NEW video installation by British artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, Radio Mania: An Abandoned Work, will be on display at The Gallery at BFI Southbank from May 8 to July 11, 2009.

This new commission takes as its starting point one of the first 3D films ever produced – The Man from M.A.R.S. (also known as Radio-Mania in its 2D version).

The artists have set about creating a contemporary adaptation of this silent movie, staged a rehearsal and filmed it using contemporary 3D video and audio technology, capturing the actors, directors and musicians working on the script and score. The Gallery will be transformed into a mind-bending stereoscopic limbo, warping the viewer’s sense of space and time.

Forsyth and Pollard’s practice revels in the grey edges of science and the idea of haunted media. Here they have created a compelling work-in-progress stuck on repeat, like a locked-groove record. Their entertaining, stark and immersive installation recalls Beckett, summoning an atmosphere that oscillates between the theatricality of the stage and the illusionism of cinema. The work occupies a state between extended reality and hallucination.

Their work often cross-references art and music. Since 2007, they have been working with Nick Cave on a series of film and music video projects. The soundtrack for Radio Mania: An Abandoned Work has been composed by the legendary Barry Adamson. A former member of Magazine, Visage and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Adamson has contributed to numerous soundtracks including David Lynch’s Lost Highway, Derek Jarman’s The Last of England and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

The Man from M.A.R.S. was made in 1922 to demonstrate ‘Teleview’, a stereoscopic motion picture system created by Laurens Hammond who later went on to invent the Hammond Organ. In this film an inventor builds a radio transmission device capable of communicating with life on Mars only to wake up and find it was a dream. Following its premiere in New York, the film closed 24 days later, after which neither Teleview nor the 3D film was seen again. Radio-Mania now forms part of the BFI National Archive.

Forsyth and Pollard’s previous work includes the staging of Silent Sound (2006), an experiment in subliminal messaging with Jason Pierce from Spiritualized; File under Sacred Music (2003), their acclaimed video remake of the Cramps live at Napa State Mental Institute; and A Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide (1998), their live re-enactment of David Bowie’s farewell performance as Ziggy Stardust.

NB: On June 17, BFI Southbank will premiere Do you love me like I love you. Part 5: Tender Prey.

Do you love me like I love you is a series of 14 new short films by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard commissioned by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds to accompany the 2009 re-issue of their influential catalogue. Expanding on the several projects the artists and the band have worked on together as well as Forsyth and Pollard’s own acclaimed Precious Little series, each 40 minute film features a collage of the famous, infamous and unknown talking directly to camera about what the songs mean to them. The result is a subjective human portrait of the truly unique body of work, told through those who have lived and loved the music.

Following the screening the artists and Nick Cave will take part in a Q&A with the audience. The event takes place between 6.20pm and 8.30pm in NFT1 at BFI Southbank.

Admission: Free.

Times: Tuesday to Sundays (and Bank Holiday Mondays) from 11am to 8pm.

BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XT

Tel: Daily info: 020 7633 0274; Box office: 020 7928 3232