Clean Guns, film stills from 16mm film, 5 minutes, colour, sound 2017.
Installation images from exhibition May 2017 at CSA Space Vancouver.
In Clean Guns the relationship between machines, the body, and survival are explored through a multilayered use of new and old image technologies, blending temporalities. With the use of 16mm film, 3D embodied viewing and auditory inscriptions, the works consider corporeal ways of experiencing seeing. Usually tools for mastery, the machines in Clean Guns instead fail in their use by imperceptible weaknesses in the bodies of the artist and subject. Theses failures are not simply subjective but they leave traces, visible and physical which imprint themselves.
Erin Siddall’s 16mm installation Clean Guns (2017) demonstrates the fraught connection between guns, projectors, cameras as apparatuses. The film shows the artist’s dying step-father Earl cleaning his guns for the last time, overlaid with machine or camera sounds, archival audio and diagetic dialogue. The gun allows the hunter to fend for himself, either in protection of their own life, or to hunt food to sustain themselves. The gun being cleaned was used to kill a cougar that had stalked Earl on an earlier hunting trip. This habitual restoring/cleaning of the machine that cannot continue to protect or provide food for its frail owner demonstrates the irony of this process. The artist, with partially incapacitated shoulders from two accidents, uses a 16mm camera handheld with a macro lens with difficulty, which reflects a mirrored impotence of the technology’s intention. Clean Guns is a companion piece to the video installation Earl (2013), a collaborative work between Siddall and Sean Arden featuring the mountain lion representative of the artist's stepfather sick with cancer, who, like the lion, once able-bodied and vital, is now permanently domesticated, watching the world from inside.