IN 1976, WHILST STILL A STUDENT AT THE ROYAL COLLEGE of Art in London, John Smith made a short film called The Girl Chewing Gum. To this day this film – in which Smith appears to direct the incidental comings and goings on a busy Dalston side street, remains his best-known piece of work; an art-school classic, presented to wide-eyed first years in colleges up and down the country. Since this early success, Smith has gone on to become an unpredictable, unselfconscious artist, a filmmaker who captures the humour, complexity and mundanity of life in the UK. Even his name suggests a triumphant, British ordinariness.
After watching the video in class of John SMiths work i have been extremly driven to research more of his work. The Video we were shown was ‘The Girl Chewing Gum’ which features a 7 minute clip of people walking buy unawear they are being filmed in the street and john smith commentating over it.
Its this idea of commentating over a previously filmed clip is what i want to investiagate and potentially use to interperate into my own work. I will research artists who do similar work to him.
We were also asked to create a short essay of roughly 250 words about an artist we find interesting relating to the project brief. I chose Smith to research. This is my essay
Girl chewing gum 1976
‘On a busy London Street, video installation artist John Smith directs a scene the exact way that he wants it. As his ‘cast’ come and go in front of his camera he directs them in a constant narration, telling them exactly what he wants them to do.’ A perfect description I found on the IMDB website.
Watching his work of ‘Girl chewing gum’ I was inspired. This specific piece of work grabbed my attention immediately. His simple yet moving art work showed his clever technique of using video art. This drove me to investigate more about his other art pieces and interested to look if any other artists has done anything similar.
‘John Smith was born in Walthamstow, east London in 1952 and studied film at the Royal College of Art. Initially inspired by conceptual art and the structural materialist ideas that dominated British artists’ filmmaking during his formative years, but also fascinated by the immersive power of narrative and the spoken word, he has developed an extensive body of work that subverts the perceived boundaries between documentary and fiction, representation and abstraction.’.
I want to take his work further and use it to base my idea for The Voice project, his idea of commentating is something I want to experiment with and see how many ways I can re produce his work in my won way. One of my ideas is to use this technique in an interview, and pretend I’m able to predict what the person is saying, using the same technique he did.