2. Part One - Contemporary Art · 2.b. Project 2: Time and time-based media

Exercise 2 – Interpreting video art

Sam Taylor-Wood’s ‘Still Life’

Notes

  • Initial response: Not a huge fan. Interesting but doesn’t move me. Not aesthetically pleasing
  • Media/Form: I like the fact of being able to see decaying process. The steps involved. The surrounding table and wall seem to lose colour and life with the fruit. Why the pen though? Nothing happens to the pen. I guess in contrast it withstands/isn’t affected by time
  • Context: Vanitas/Nature Morte style of art as inspiration (the rotting fruit)
  • Other pieces include ‘death estimate’ a time lapse video in the same style of a rabbit decomposing next to a peach.
  • This piece doesn’t just comment on time it captures time. What happens with the passing of time and how things ae affected differently.

 

250 words. Describe your understanding of the piece

Sam Taylor-Wood’s video ‘Still Life’ is a video art piece on the effects of time in a contemporary but traditional Vanitas style way and it doesn’t just comment on the effects of time, it captures them. We have our focus point of the basket of fruit, bright and full of life on this beautiful dark wooden table which slowly moulds and decays into a grey amorphous mush. But it’s not just the fruit that is effected by this. The table too feels the effects of time. Starting as a rich, healthy vivid coloured wood it slowly dims, turning white, seeming to grow its own mould as the fruit dies and the wall too loose colour and life. Like all these things were relying on each other to stay alive. But what its most interesting about this piece is the subtle emphasis on how time effects our contemporary objects versus the natural. We have a blue ballpoint pen sat next to the bowl of fruit which remains untouched and unaffected by time. This man-made and cheap object does not decay. We have created things that will withstand time and outlive our natural world. Which leaves the question of the future? What will be left of us, as individuals, as a species? We create these objects that can live longer than we can, will these be the things we are remembered for? Will these items become what our so called ‘signature’ like they hieroglyphics were for the ancient Egyptians?

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