RAN SLAVIN

Ghost / installation

GHOST/EYES ON YOU/ EYE

Media: video and sound

Format and duration:

Ghost: projection. installation. 1080 x 1920 pixels. 4’14”, colour, sound 25 FPS

Eyes on You: projection. installation. 1920 x 1080 pixels. 4’37”, colour, sound 25 FPS

Eye: projection. installation. 1920 x 1080 pixels. 5’00”, colour, sound 25 FPS

Year: 2013

Credits: figure in Ghost – Douglas Letheren

 

An arena of gazes

 

In the Ghost exhibition at the Ashdod Museum of Art (curated by Roni Cohen Binyamini and Yuval Beaton), Ran Slavin presented video installations in several centres, including the work Eye on the entrance floor and the work Eyes on You on the mezzanine floor. These works were originally created with reference to the labyrinthine structure and charged history of the ‘Hansen House’ in Jerusalem (founded in the nineteenth century as the first shelter for lepers), and were then presented at the Israel Festival in 2013.

 

Slavin, a video and sound artist who has recently also expanded his work into the field of cinema, uses electronic technology to explore the relationship between the documentary photographic image and a processed image that undergoes digital intervention. Slavin is inspired by dreams, the worlds of fantasy and science fiction, while under the magic wand of special effects he combines a gloomy futuristic aesthetic in his works, with breath-taking landscapes both locally and abroad, with intense urban spaces that pass under his hands’ surrealistic style, and with characters deprived of any recognisable hallmark. As a composer and video editor in his profession, he uses post-production as a tool to allow him to create estranged visual manipulations that challenges the photographed reality.

 

His works in the exhibition all create an arena of gazes, examining the relationship between the viewer’s gaze and the works gaze. Slavin thus stretches the limits of the viewer’s ability to confront the ‘eyes’ of his works, both deterrent and appealing, which also evoke feelings of persecution and surveillance, discomfort and apprehension. Viewers thus find themselves in what Slavin calls ‘a confrontational theatre’ – an exhibitionist visibility that captures the viewer in its web while standing in the middle between the imaginary and the existing.

 

Slavin’s works in the exhibition function as a sequence of chapters from an ongoing experience, with each work sending an ‘arm’ linking to the other. They consist of saturated scenes enchanted by the mysterious and the dark, seductive and yet warning of danger at the same time, and rely on aesthetic features that form part of Slavin’s visual lexicon – one characterised by alienated beauty, nerve-wracking silence, intensity and utopian/dystopian appearance. The image of smoke is an example of a prominent motif in this lexicon, which for Slavin is a symbol of deception and elusiveness, as a kind of axis or umbilical cord that connects the tangible to the amorphous, and is used as a transition between the physical and the immaterial.

 

The video work Eye, as it is called, shows a vertical and enlarged close-up of an eye of which the pupil switches from human to animal with each blink, and in it reflects a column of smoke, lacking a source of combustion, which twists and evaporates as it leaves the frame. This smoke also emerges in the Ghost video, as it replaces the head of the tailored figure moving in a tense, unpredictable and aggressive choreography to the sound of truncated and jarring noises. On the upper part of the figure, two bright red dots roam, providing flashes of laser beams and torches settling on a target, until they stop at the ‘natural’ place of the eyes. This pair of dots is the leading symbol in his third work, Eyes on You: like a band of creatures hiding in the dark, they coalesce and return a poignant and terrifying look, flickering under a red beam of light that scans the space with a printers noise once in a while.

 

Hadassah Cohen is an independent curator. She holds a Masters in Art Policy and Theory from Bezalel (2020), where she majored in Curatorial Studies. Cohen is the assistant to curators Yuval Bitton and Roni Cohen-Binyamini at the Ashdod Museum of Art.


Video works:
Ghost
Video HD, 4:14 min, loop, 16:9, color, sound
Eyes On You
Video HD, 4:37 min, loop, 16:9, color, sound
Eye
Video HD, 5:00 min, loop, 16:9, color, sound
Dancer
Video HD, 5:00 min, loop, 16:9, color, sound
Produced in 2013
A realistic, human size, unisex, holographic figure with smoke instead of a head, and piercing red eyes, moves mysteriously and uneasily between fluctuating stillness and abrupt sound. It confronts the viewer with a cyber ritual of sorts through a speechless dialogue of movement in sync with sound in an optical illusion of three dimensional presence. Shifting electronic red dots transform from eyeballs to gun laser marks and back. A red scanner line scans the space and defines it.

The work Ghost plays with our senses and mediates an encounter with our belief and familiarity to human form, between what we know and believe, and an illusion.
The work Ghost reverses the relationship of the viewer and artwork and questions- who is looking at who?

Ghost, and Eyes On You were first installed at the Lepers Colony (Hansen House )in Jerusalem and were in dialogue with the history of the location as part of 4 immersive installations in the building which led the viewer through the buildings labyrinth. The buildings interiors were lit in red light and fog was emitted from its windows. Ambient low-rumble sound was dispersed in the hallways and the holographic installations occurred in joined rooms.
The Lepers Colony or Hanson House, is a historical building in Jerusalem Talbiya neighborhood. The building was first made in the late 19th century as a hospital for patients with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Until 2002 the site acted in the form of an outpatient clinic, and re-opened in 2013 as an extension of the Bezalel Academy of arts & design.

Exhibited at Hansen House (The Lepers Colony) Jerusalem at The Israel Festival 2013
The international Photography festival, Israel 2016
Beit Kandidiv, Tel Aviv 2018
Cast: Douglas Letheren
Thanks to Amit Sides for help with the documentation.

Eyes On You (excerpt)

Installation view:

 

 

Ghost / Eyes On You documented at The international Photography festival in an underground cellar.

 

 

photo-shira arad

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