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Stuart Croft
Formerly a painting student, Stuart Croft's initial transition into the media of film and video occurred during his MA year at Chelsea College of Art (1997-98).

As an aspiring painter he had looked towards the work of Polke, so it was perhaps not surprising that his first tentative forays into film would incorporate appropriated imagery in the form of found footage, with which the artist cut his teeth in Chelsea's primitive editing suite. This in turn quickly developed into a fascination with the editing process, together with an enduring passion for critiquing the formal and stylistic components of various cinematic genres.

In 1997, Croft had also ventured into performance with Station to Station, an event realised at Aldwych Underground Station, in which the voice of a collaborator at ground level could be heard asking passers-by if they'd seen his allegedly missing girlfriend.

On an extremely restricted budget, the following year Croft brought together all of these elements for the first time in Point X (6 min, 1998), a six-minute loop and the first publicly-aired film to embody what would become the artist's signature editorial approach. Dual off-screen narrations explore a single landscape: firstly from the perspective of a local television channel re-staging a disappearance as part of a police murder investigation, and again from the viewpoint of a promotional video made on behalf of a stress management centre. The link is achieved by means of a slow dissolve between one distinctive scenario and the next, a device that would become axiomatic to much of Croft's subsequent work. As one gradually dissolves into the other, we are aware not only of the narrative disjunction, but also of the two conflictive styles of filmic presentation.

Croft followed Point X later that same year with Dead Happy (9 min, 1998), a work that fused the conventions of the television-drama trailer with those of the talking-head documentary. Here the confluence of these two largely incompatible genres is achieved, not through the protracted use of the slow dissolve, but by rapid, staccato cutting, with the artist demonstrating a growing confidence in his editing techniques. The single narrator's voice provides the only continuity tenuously linking the fragmented scenarios. However, even this draws on the convention of the actor's voice-over, the necessity for which makes itself apparent as we come to realise that the original female protagonist has committed suicide, while her guilt-ridden bulimic boyfriend is left behind to stumble into the gangland world of the television thriller.

The narrative is obscure - or rather obscured - but the more we probe, the more the facets coalesce into the semblance of a coherent whole. As with most of Croft's work, it may not be possible to fit all of the pieces together, but it is possible to reach a generic construct that is partly resolved in narrative terms yet ultimately resides in the conflicting conventions of the genres themselves.

Still from Point X by , 1998
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