Popcorn In Nightvision

The cinema as a site for the consumption of nutritionless morsels under cover of darkness.

Popcorn in Nightvision, a one-minute video piece, is an improvised, instinctive response to the shared conditions of voyeurism, consumption, and prioretic expectation in the cinematic experience. It was originally produced for screening in a large-screen cinema context, but has subsequently been screened in other contexts, including galleries, museums and outdoor public screens. This piece aims to allude to the secrecy and privacy of cinematic consumption through its use of night vision and the consequent implication of darkness, but focuses this technology of surveillance onto popcorn, a signifier of the empty consumerism that is indicative of the experience of much mainstream Hollywood cinema.

At the beginning of the piece, popcorn kernels are released into a pan of hot oil, shot in night vision and framed in a mock-cinemascope format. The framing and unusual green glow of the night vision LED make it difficult for the audience to immediately understand what is being depicted. At some point after the audience make visual sense of the image, the suspense begins, as the kernels fizz and bubble. It is clear how the piece is going to be resolved – but suspence and expectation are created by the question of which of the kernels will go first, and when. The eventual resolution of the narrative is akin to a Western gunfight after a high-noon standoff, where a period of dramatic tension is resolved in a transformative explosion of violence, but also, in this case, humour, mild absurdity, and entertainment.

Exhibition History
Included in Host 4: Cinema screening programme and DVD, and screened at:
The Sheffield Pavilion 2007, Venice Biennale, Münster Skulptur Projekt, Documenta, Summer 2007.
Jeez, Consortium Amsterdam, August 2006.
BBC Big Screen Liverpool, Clayton Square, Liverpool, part of 37 Seconds project, March 2006.
Le Festival: Nouvelle Images, Le Festival International du Premier Film, Annonay, France, February 2006.
Short Circuits Interrupted short film festival, Sheffield, October 2005
Side Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 2005
Falmouth Arts Centre, as part of the Cornwall Festival of Film, November 2004
The Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, November 2004

Selected by and screened at:
Film & Food in HAL25, Alkmaar, The Netherlands, 3rd–10th September 2010
Today Art Gallery, Beijing, China, Summer 2008
Het Ketelhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2006
Shanghai Fringe Festival, China, November 2006

Popcorn in Nightvision
Year of production: 2004
Media: single screen video, widescreen format, 1m00s