Ronan McCrea

Structures of Feeling (Superimposition)

Structures of Feeling (Superimposition) involves the double screening of two 16mm films: a twenty minute segment of Robert Flaherty’s seminal 1934 ethnographic docu-fiction Man of Arran superimposed on a seven minute section of The Structure of Atoms, a Soviet era science educational film for schools which features distinctive modernist graphics to explicate the fundamental structure of matter invisible to the human eye. As each film segment is physically looped and of different duration, the combination of images is constantly in flux. The title of this work is appropriated from theorist and critic Raymond Williams, whose famous, if at times ambiguous, concept of structures of feeling describes how different ways of thinking are vying to emerge at any one time in history, if not yet fully articulated or worked out. Structures of feeling can also describe how distinctive values and ways of organising experience are shared by a generation within a culture.

This work was exhibited as part of the solo exhibition Efference Copy Mechanism, at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, 14 Feburary- 13 April 2019.  The exhibition comprises a complex arrangement of superimposed slide and 16mm film projections that draw on the artist’s personal archive and accumulated image bank, continuing his ongoing exploration of celluloid materiality, appropriated and found images, instructional film and pedagogy, reproduction and indexicality.

The darkened gallery space is divided by a line of steel archive storage shelves. From within this structure – at once functional and symbolic – an array of signals, control boxes, cables, looping mechanisms and projectors orchestrate the combination of images onto the surrounding walls. This spine-like structure is a key to the exhibition’s title. In neurological terms an efference is a motor signal from the central nervous system to the periphery. A copy of this signal – an efference copy – is created as the signal exits the brain and is re-routed to other areas of the sensory cortex, thus explaining our perception of stability despite constant eye movement, and how sensory signals generated from external stimuli can be distinguished from signals resulting from one’s own actions. Efference Copy Mechanism acts as a metaphor and framework for the artist’s thinking on his own relationship to the photo-mechanical image and the ‘baggage’ – both physical and metaphoric – of a personal archive representing many years of practice.

Images: Installation view of ‘Efference Copy Mechanism’ . Photographs: Kasia Kaminska