'We Are Just Watching' runs in three sites in the Great Eastern Hotel; the rooms' internal TV Channel 19, the main lobby and the 19 th century Masonic Temple. Each comprises of looped video mimicking real time where characters repeatedly play out a mini Beckett style set piece of tragicomedy brought into corporate and leisure-time Britain. Mystifying routines and rituals emerge and vanish, like an existential stream of consciousness where no pattern exists and nothing is going to happen.
Unadvertised to hotel guests, Channel 19 will run the 24 hour looped video of a four panel split screen shot from a ceiling height camera located in various hotel rooms and corridors. Shot in night vision, the scenes are frequently empty spaces periodically interjected with mini dramas - two gentlemen in kilts going through a seemingly military routine, a man in suit, shoeless, repeatedly running down a hallway, women in bathroom robes lined up in some kind of procession and packs of businessmen in scenes of endearing group bonding. The viewer will find them only by chance, surfing the multitude of entertainment already on offer.
In the Masonic Temple themes of ceremony and hierarchy are played out to a single viewer expecting the passive role of the watcher. Lured into the space by an atmosphere of a show about to begin, the viewer is placed at the heart of the work, when the tacit agreement between audience and performer is abruptly broken.
Through lack of apparent human authorship, this work ostensibly presents us with CCTV style video and yet these collections of silent semi-narratives are redolent of a Buster Keaton film or scenes from Kubrick's 'The Shining' interspersed with clips from a Reality TV show or Youtube. The dark undercurrents and subconscious collective neurosis are counterbalanced by a sense of absurdity making parts disconcertingly funny. Ultimately, 'We Are Just Watching' exploits notions of observed reality by interweaving numerous acts into layers of potential meaning. To quote Beckett ' Reality, whether approached imaginatively or empirically, remains a surface, hermetic'.
Jo Love and Sam Jury were both Fellows of the Royal Academy Schools, London. Filming and post-production for the show was done in collaboration with the film and lighting director Andrew Petley. This show is supported by grants from the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities Research Institute (SSAHRI), the Elephant Trust, the University of Hertfordshire and by kind sponsorship from SCALA Broadcast Multi Media (UK and USA), Epson UK and Digital Print Studios, London. Promoted by Ben Austin, London.
Other collaborative, site-specific works by Love and Jury include the 'Mankind Project' at the Museum of Mankind, London (2005) and the forthcoming 'Life in One Room' (2008), at strategic sites in Elephant and Castle (working in partnership with Danielle Arnaud, Southwark Council, Elephant Links and Andrew Petley).