Jason Dee

When first introduced, photography and film appeared to halt or preserve the passing of time, suggesting an uncanny merging of intangible and material worlds. Jason Dee examines these themes in relation to the temporal tension found between cinematic motion and the still frames from which it is composed. Photographs are seen as documents of the past, while action draws viewers into the present moment of a film’s storyline. Dee explores these differences and demonstrates how they may now be breaking down and reconfiguring, through digital interventions into the once fixed surface of celluloid film.

The transfer of films onto DVD has dramatically altered how they are now viewed, allowing them to be reconstructed or paused with the aid of a remote control. Dee emphasizes this perceptual shift by digitally cutting out and freezing actors within film scenes. Cinema’s linear trajectory seems to distort, forcing it to orbit endlessly around the figure’s axis. These loops, caught between the ‘point’ of a single frame and the linearity of cinematic progression, seem to take on qualities from both. Narrative dissolves away as document and fantasy skirt around each other.

Cinema’s fixed surfaces and illusory depths are highlighted when still and moving layers share the same screen. Frozen figures, set against shifting backdrops, take on planar qualities (reminiscent of 19th Century stereoscopic photography), with flat layers separated by voids. Fleeting, ephemeral details, such as smoke and reflections, now occupy and drift through these spaces, loosely connecting seemingly opposing temporalities. This suggests it is the ungraspable, contingent qualities of our world, hidden in the shadows of cinematic narrative that create an uncanny bridge between a recorded past and viewed present.

Chosen scenes normally contain self-reflexive elements such as back-projections or recording devices, elegiac references to obsolete technologies and the worlds they captured. They appear dislocated, sealed off in space and time, with the actors occupying them caught in a state of limbo. By using software to dissolve the fixed surface and structure of cinema, ghost worlds surface, repositories of long gone sounds and images, echoing up from a bedrock of universal human desires and fears: love, transcendence, isolation and death.


Image Credit

Slide show: 
Final Frame 2008
Final Frame 2
"We'll revisit the scenes of our youth"
"We're going for a trip across the water"

Jason Dee was born in Sunderland in 1968. He studied photography at Northumbria University and completed an MFA at Glasgow School of Art in 2001. He has since exhibited widely in Britain, Europe and North America and undertaken a number of residencies, including the Scottish Arts Council New Media Residency.