Phil Davis

Building Blocks

An experiment in idiotic repetition and endurance as viewed by multiple spectator camera witnesses in a warehouse in the middle of the night.

An experiment in idiotic repetition and endurance as viewed by multiple spectator camera witnesses in a warehouse in the middle of the night. The act of building and destroying is repeated in a cycle, which degrades and is dissected through rapid editing and time manipulation. Violence, punctuated impact, and comedy collide to stir emotions in the aftermath of each destructive charge against creation. In a way the video develops a creation through destruction and a metaphor for the constant cycle of human civilizations rising and falling under their own destructive actions and perpetual forces.

Davis says that the “Building Blocks” video was inspired by an artist named Rafael Montañez Ortiz, author of Destructivism: A Manifesto. Davis adds,

Ortiz did lots of performance/sculpture pieces involving the destruction of physical objects like pianos, couches, and mattresses to sort of reach a transcendence through the destructive act. Anyway, interesting stuff and some interesting ideas, I was very into his work and ideas at the time I made the video.

Davis’ work is on exhibition at Baltimore’s School 33 gallery, October 30 ““ December 13, 2008, as part of a show called Into the Light / Into the Dark. Into the Light/Into the Dark features three video makers and an installation artist, each works with light modulated through analog systems via “low” or now “lapsed” technologies.

One of those lapsed technologies was a camera that Davis took apart, while it filmed him taking it apart. The video leaves viewers with a strange feeling; watching the video instills a sense of curiosity about how the camera works, but watching the dissection from the camera’s point of view creates an odd sympathy for the camera. Davis deconstructs cameras, literally: throwing them, spinning them, dragging the camera from a car.

Phil Davis has a background in 16mm film production, with a focus on documentary and hand drawn animation. His current work consists of performances for and with video cameras. He instigates physical acts, which are simultaneously violent and humorous, and which often end with the destruction of the video technology used to record his actions.

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