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Reading the morphology of Ben Rivers’s chemical landscapes

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This article examines the discursive and aesthetic functions of the abstract material artefacts that emerge from Ben Rivers’s hand processing of his 16mm films, focusing on the various ways these abstract forms interact with photographic images to produce a compound and plastic textuality. Drawing upon Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard’s theorization of the figural, which seeks to explain the relationship between a text and its own material image, it examines the oscillation between two registers of filmic discourse in Two Years At Sea (2011) and its short predecessor, This Is My Land (2006). In these films, images of people and landscape merge with textures and shapes that arise from hand processing to create newly thickened worlds upon a chemical landscape.
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Keywords: Ben Rivers; celluloid; hand-processing; materiality; the figural; the portrait film

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: London South Bank University

Publication date: 01 December 2016

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  • The Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ) is the first international peer-reviewed scholarly publication devoted to artists' film and video, and its contexts. It offers a forum for debates surrounding all forms of artists' moving image and media artworks: films, video installations, expanded cinema, video performance, experimental documentaries, animations, and other screen-based works made by artists. MIRAJ aims to consolidate artists' moving image as a distinct area of study that bridges a number of disciplines, not limited to, but including art, film, and media.
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