Corin Sworn: The Lens Prism (4 stars)

Corin Sworn: The Lens Prism

A man steps into the spotlight of a theatre, hangs up his jacket, takes a sip of water and begins the narration. A series of vignettes will weave together autobiographical anecdote with history, and past events with present day interpretation. Corin Sworn’s video piece deals with the discursive wanderings of the actor’s mind. His voice is confident and convincing throughout, yet the narrative thread tangles and we become witness to the fractals of a subtly short circuiting thought process.

Canadian born, Glasgow-based Sworn uses the concept of the lens prism to package the discrepancies in reading a text. By adjusting a lens prism, it is possible to treat muscular imbalance in eye orientation by displacement of what is seen through the spectacle lens. It is the subtle alteration of our own subjectivity in the attempt to see what others see that can confound the story of the past. Employing scientific measures, in this case optics, can trigger superficial moments where stories align, but Sworn is not interested in these, instead, she takes delight in the collision of accounts, where elements of space blend with time, motion and experience.

Her film’s script makes use of theatrical props and stage lights to highlight fragmentation. At one point the figure casts a double shadow in green and magenta. Continuing the theme of illumination, a framed drawing that accompanies her video is lit by RGB filters that merge into a single white light, though hints of the three distinctly coloured beams show subtly on the picture’s periphery. The focus here is not befuddlement, instead we are presented with intricate facts and elaborate fiction, involved story telling and hidden emotion, and the extended invitation to draw our own conclusions is in no way patronising. The artist has done her bit.

Still desperate to make sense, our narrator finds himself in hospital converging in a split-person dialogue. He is asked to describe the pain, loses his train of thought and utters that he cannot remember. His lucid mind has let him down, the light dims behind the closing back door, and he may start yet again.

Tramway, Glasgow, until Sun 17 Oct

Corin Sworn: The Lens Prism

  • 4 stars

A new film commission shot by Sworn in the main theatre at the Tramway, connecting a series of interwoven narratives made from appropriated texts that have been juxtaposed to form a conversation.