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George Barber
"...unless you have unlimited funds and time, it's very difficult to say what you can offer the world that isn't directly linked to your personality. Okay, so you live this particular limited life but no two lives are ever the same; with little funding it seemed to me that the biggest space left is really a novelistic one, a place where you use your imagination and speak, confess, admit..." George Barber, in From 'S'ap'nin' Man?' to 'What Blow, Blud?' (Filmwaves magazine

The general assumption made about the work of video artist George Barber is that it falls quite comfortably into two distinct arenas. The first centres on his pioneering and extremely influential Scratch video experiments with appropriated, re-sequenced and jump-edited footage (along with subsequent, more or less abstract / patterned pieces). The second includes his later performative, narrative micro-dramas (primarily in monologue form) and real-world physical 'experiments' - resolutely actual, unmediated events (from extreme shouting to inverted suspension on vehicles), which reveal the means of their making and are many strides away from the manipulated virtuality of his Scratch tapes' pop-cultural source material.

There's no denying, of course, a divergence of styles, technological application and subject matter in these reasonably accurate groupings. But what is far more interesting is what links them, beneath the single, pixellated surface of their also shared medium. It is there that one finds an extraordinary consistency of themes, attitudes and even motifs, regardless of the seeming irrelation on first encounter.

It is this sustained attention to his primary concerns - the condition, quality and physicality of communication; self-determination and resistance to control; the alienating effects of modern commercialised life, the unreliability of 'truth' and perception, the tension between image and experience; a certain eye for the fugitive beauty of the discarded and overlooked - as well as the emotional and intellectual driver, a philosophical, sometimes absurdist humour of observation, by which the pieces are propelled, which makes Barber's body of work to date very much of a part, prismatic shards of a coherent whole.

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