Douglas Gordon was born in Britain in 1966. He works in various media including text, painting, installation and video. He often uses existing film and alters its pace, context or scale; most famously, he slowed Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho to run for 24 hours. He lives and works in Glasgow.
10ms-1 uses silent film footage made during the First World War. It shows a soldier, dressed only in his underwear, who seems to be recovering from an injury. He makes a couple of unsteady steps before falling over. Once on the ground, he tries to stand up, but repeatedly fails. The jerkiness of his hapless movements is exaggerated by the slow-motion projection. The title refers to the speed at which an object falls under the pull of gravity.
The film has been transferred to video and is shown in a repeated loop, locking the soldier into an endless cycle of struggle and failure. Watching it can be at once compelling, frustrating and strangely voyeuristic. As Douglas Gordon has said: You can see that what is happening on screen might be quite painful – both physically and psychologically – but it has a seductive surface. What do you do – switch off or face the possibility that a certain sadistic mechanism may be at work?
The man’s outwardly healthy appearance makes the forces responsible for his collapse ambiguous. He may be suffering from a spinal injury or from shell shock, but it is equally possible that he is an actor involved in a clinical reconstruction for teaching purposes. In another work made around the same time, Gordon used a medical demonstration film in which a case of hysteria was staged, and he has acknowledged an interest in the way that such ambiguous documentation opens up questions about truth, perception and representation.