Elaine Despins

The Seascape series

Elaine Despins: The Seascapes Trilogy.

In Seascapes Elaine Despins confronts us with three short video pieces which form a trilogy (or triptych) of images. That she has chosen to make use of such a format, with its associations with the Trinity and religious painting, is no mistake. This work, like much of her practice, draws our attention to the Heideggerean question of Being, but in a contemporary and secular mode, one which is very much informed by her longstanding practice as a painter.

In Seascape 1 we watch as two pairs of eyes, one pair child-like and one pair adult, unsettlingly drift in and out of superimposition, seemingly in sympathy with the ebb and flow of the waves that feature in the soundtrack of all three segments. On the second screen, we watch as a hand flails in slow motion above an empty bed like seaweed washed by a tide, while in the third section only the empty bed remains, and the sole movement is that of the video signal itself.

The colours here are those of the sea, linking and yet differentiating each of the segments (which are intended to be viewed simultaneously). Each of them stands up in its own right, yet together they form a unified, breathing whole, and one which resists any easy decoding or ascription. By doing this they show us something of ourselves: they speak of stillness, otherness, solitude and absence, but they do not presume to tell us anything. In this lies the strength of this quietly moving piece of work.

— Michael Bowdidge is an artist, writer and educator currently completing a PhD by practice at Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland