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The Girl Chewing Gum

John Smith
1976
12mins Black & White 16mm

The Girl Chewing Gum

'In The Girl Chewing Gum an authoritative voice-over pre-empts the events occurring in the image, seeming to order not only the people, cars and moving objects within the screen but also the actual camera movements operated on the street in view. In relinquishing the more subtle use of voice-over in television documentary, the film draws attention to the control and directional function of that practice: imposing, judging, creating an imaginary scene from a visual trace. This 'Big Brother' is not only looking at you but ordering you about as the viewer's identification shifts from the people in the street to the camera eye overlooking the scene. The resultant voyeurism takes on an uncanny aspect as the blandness of the scene (shot in black and white on a grey day in Hackney) contrasts with the near 'magical' control identified with the voice. The most surprising effect is the ease with which representation and description turn into phantasm through the determining power of language.' - Michael Maziere, John Smith's Films: Reading the Visible' Undercut 10/11.

'John Smith's improbable treatise on representation has deservedly become a Co-op classic.' - Ian Christie,Time Out.

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