Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges


Sylvain Flanagan's installations deploy a humble palette of materials: slides, synchronized projectors, improvised vocals, recorded sounds. The scene, composed like a classic tryptique, hinges in the imaginary toward the spectator. The experience is both choreographed and improvised, constantly teetering near the fissure between image and sound, stillness and movement, the accumulated and the singular, the transparent and the opaque.

Flanagan's raw materials are intimate, almost confessional, dwelling somewhere between the place of personal experience, performed response and reconstructed memory. His technique is unwavering. The cinematographic image is deliberately reduced to its simplest component part: the single frame. Without resorting to technical manipulation or the duplication of images, Flanagan documents an experience, occasionally over the span of years, literally frame by frame. The isolation of each frame is figured by the use of 35 mm. slides, which he associates with transparency, luminosity, and an absence of inversion. Using a substantial accumulation of slides, Flanagan reassembles an imaginary event-space through careful, rhythmic sequencing and juxtaposition. Surreptitiously, the mechanical sounds of the three slide projectors perform the base beat. His improvised vocals and recorded sounds are carefully edited – sometimes stitched to the visual rhythm like music. Sometimes they are dissonant, even bordering on ornery.

Flanagan's installations both flow and stutter. Lulling moments can suddenly turn disquieting as he experiments with a rich anthology of visual assemblages and visceral responses. Both revelatory and alarming, Flanagan's installations ask the viewer to consider an alternate understanding of the relationship between image and sound, narrative and memory. He achieves this foremost by leaving the viewer unsure whether the images respond to his dissonant harmonics or whether sound accompanies his rhythmic visual choreography, or some oscillating combination of the two. Subsequently, he works with the juxtaposition, repetition and realignment of the typically mundane translated into the rousing and the eerie. Thus, Flanagan explores the idiosyncrasies of his own perception while attempting to capture the general chaotic flux of the world. When achieving his moment of maximum impact, he fuses humor, absurdity and pain, as he inhabits the illusive fissure which he sets out to understand.

Anya Sirota and Jean-Louis Farges. June 2007