The Lens

Artists have sometimes drawn attention to the mediating role of the camera’s lens, which controls both the focus and the brightness of the image. 

Films showing in this section: 

John Du Cane Zoom Lapse 1975
Gill Eatherley Light Occupations: Lens and Mirror Film 1973
Guy Sherwin Filter Beds 1998

John Du Cane Zoom Lapse 1975

15 minutes. Collection: Lux 

The zoom lens - with its ability to bring the distance close, then throw it back again - is the protagonist in John Du Cane’s film. Its action here is combined with a time exposure on each film frame. Thus both time and distance are compressed within the same image. ‘I wanted the viewer to be pretty conscious that what they’re seeing is not something that exists on celluloid; that there’s a way it’s manufactured in the viewing process.’ John Du Cane 2002 

Biography:

John Du Cane was born in Africa in 1949. He studied at Cambridge University. He made thirty-four films between 1972-75 during a brief but prolific period of activity in which he was closely associated with the London Filmmakers’ Co-op. At the same time, he was one of the most eloquent advocates of new work by British and international film artists, writing weekly previews and articles for Time Out and other magazines of the period. He now lives in the USA

Gill Eatherley Light Occupations: Lens and Mirror Film 1973

3 minutes. Collection: Artist 

In the 1970s, Gill Eatherley made a series of films which explored light in its different forms, such as sunlight and the light-beam of film projection. Here she responds to the brilliance of a sun-lit beach, but playfully draws attention to the function of the lens - like a dark eye - recording the scene. The film is silent. 

Biography:

Gill Eatherley was born in 1950. She studied at Winchester School of Art and St Martins School of Art, and later the Royal College of Art, London. She worked at the London Filmmakers Co-op in the early 1970s then left Britain after a period of teaching at St Martins. She now lives and works in France. 

Guy Sherwin Filter Beds 1998

9 minutes. Collection: Lux 

In Filter Beds, tiny changes in focus allow Guy Sherwin to explore a tangle of trees, reeds and sky. Sherwin’s manipulation of the camera lens allows him to mimic the activity of looking, isolating small details and guiding the viewer’s gaze. But the recorded image always hovers at the edge of abstraction. 

Biography:

Guy Sherwin was born in 1948. He studied at Chelsea School of Art. He helped establish fine art film at the North East London Polytechnic in the 1970s, before becoming a workshop organiser at the London Filmmakers’ Co-op. He still hand-develops and prints much of his own 16mm film work. Widely travelled and exhibited, Sherwin now teaches at the University of Wolverhampton, Middlesex University and (periodically) at the San Francisco Art Institute.