Mark Leckey, Pearl Vision, 2012

Text, Video

Mark Leckey's video work "Pearl Vision" (2012) begins with a hand typing the letters D, R, U, M on a computer keyboard. Instead of the hearing clicks, we hear drum beats. This is followed by an image of a classic snare drum from the Vision series by the legendary drum manufacturer Pearl. The brightly lit percussion instrument is situated in a black room. Leckey, wearing red jeans and a white shirt, sits down at the drum and puts on a pair of Sony headphones. Using a lever, he lowers and lifts the snares – almost as if he were starting an engine. He then begins to play the drum to the rhythm of the soundtrack, which consists of samples of a woman's and a man's voice repeating the text passages; with a sonorous "on / off", it is reminiscent of the ones and zeros of a computer language's binary code. Image and sound are linked here: The drums and electronically distorted voices seem to interact with each other, just as the rhythm of the music and the video editing have the same beat. The artist is only seen in the video in detail shots, e.g. a closeup of his thighs dressed in red denim, or from behind. The snare drum is circled in increasingly close shots. Similar to "Made in 'Eaven" (2004), the camera is not reflected in the chrome drum because Leckey has computer-replicated it and then set it into motion: "I chose a chrome snare because I knew how well chrome works in CGI [computer generated imagery]. I wanted it to be very illusionistic, I wanted to make a picture with great verisimilitude. I also had John Ashbery's 'Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror' (1975) somewhere in the back of my mind. He talks of 'the gibbous mirrored eye of an insect' and 'the cold, syrupy flow'. I wanted these effects." (1) In the second half of the video – Leckey has now stripped off his clothes – the 3D animation of the snare drum becomes distorted and starts to circle around the black non-space. The video ends with a tracking shot through a sound hole on the side of the drum into its interior, where it comes to a halt on the words of the logo "Pearl Drums Vision Series – Next Level Perfection".

For several years Leckey has been increasingly reappearing in his work. He explains this with his having left his old studio: "I recently left my flat that I lived and worked in for years and years and which appeared in a lot of the things I made. It often ended up being my surrogate because I didn't want to appear directly. So I opted for a void with 'Pearl Vision' because I don't have a place now that I particularly want to see reflected back […]." (2) Although he never appears in it in his entirety, this work constitutes a fragmentary self-portrait. A self-portrait in which the artist seems to conjure an object of desire: In closeup shots, the snare drum is scanned all around, each of its parts is celebrated – from the sound holes to the shimmering snares. In the reflection on the instrument's surface, the artist seems to fuse with the drum, even to be in its interior. Just as Leckey has appropriated the snare drum, the drum has also taken possession of him; auspicious chants are repeated – such as "Turn me on", which definitely alludes to more than just turning on a device. Leckey's convergence almost seems to be a kind of artistic objectphilia. Drummer and instrument, coveter and coveted meet on equal terms. The drum seems to sing, "Me and you, me and you!", beside itself with happiness.

(1) Mark Leckey in Kari Rittenbach, "Chrome & Flesh: An Interview with Mark Leckey", Rhizome (website), December 12, 2012, rhizome.org/editorial/2012/dec/17/mark-leckey/ (accessed on April 21, 2014).
(2) Ibid.


Mark Leckey, Pearl Vision, 2012

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