Ronan McCrea

The Rhetoric of Play (three pictures in variable sequence)

In the slide projection work The Rhetoric of Play (three pictures in variable sequence), images of play – details of which are deliberately posed and shot with dramatic lighting – are constantly reshuffled in variable sequences by the slide projector, controlled by an out-moded computer system. The title of the work is drawn from play theorist Brian Sutton-Smith, who sought to discover the cultural significance of play beyond notions of child development. He argues that play theories – how we conceptualise play – are rooted in rhetorics which are dominant discourses of a particular society, such as the ancient discourses of Fate, Power, Communal Identity, and Frivolity, and the modern discourses of Progress, the Imaginary and the Self.  These discourses resonate or can even be mapped onto theories of the social function of other signifying practices, such as that of art. The semaphore-like combination and shuffling of images point to a desire that ‘play’ (like photographs themselves) must signify;  even if what is signified is enigmatic, inaccessible or code unknown.  These sequential images are also a kind of proto-cinema, perhaps even a parody of Eisenstein’s dialectal montage of juxtaposition and collision.

This work is related to the School Play project (2008/09). The images were shot during the research period of School Play. 

Exhibition History:

AUTODIDACT (solo exhibition), Green on Red Gallery, Dublin 2011