I look at the work of Lucy Purrington, in particular at the way in which she uses humans within the landscape.

I began by looking at her video MVI 1893. The video opens with an outdoor shot of a grey, concrete surface. After a few seconds, a hand slowly crawls into shot from the right of the frame. The fingers move across the surface of the concrete, dipping momentarily behind a ridge in the ground, before slowly crawling back out of shot leaving an empty frame.

Fig. 1. Lucy Purrington (2017)

At first, I wasn’t sure what this video was trying to do. So I watched it again, looking for any distinctive patterns or ideas within the video. This time I saw what appears to be quite a clear ‘narrative’ in the way in which the hand moves across the surface of the ground. The hand crawls into shot, finger tips feeling the concrete surface; the hand rolls over on its back, again feeling the surface of the ground; the hand briefly claws at the ground, before forming a fist and thumping at the hard surface. It’s as though there is a change of emotion here. From benign and inquisitive to anger. The hand then spreads out its fingers, its palm slapping the concrete surface. Another change of emotion, perhaps frustration. The hand claws at the surface again, before dropping out of sight behind a ridge in the ground, leaving an empty frame.

I also noticed that the shot had been carefully framed so that the hand appeared in close-up, moving roughly in proportion to the rule of thirds. Which produced a satisfying composition. I was also more aware of the audio track, which is simply an ambient recording of the landscape in which the camera is set. We hear birdsong and the sound of the hand as it moves across and interacts with the landscape.

Fig. 2. Lucy Purrington (2017)

I then found another video, 29 03 17 1 overlay, in which she overlays several different ‘hand’ videos, including MVI 1893, over a shot of an empty area of ground. Interestingly, having just seen the previous video, this one made more sense on first viewing it.

What I find particularly interesting about her approach in these two videos is the way in which she has set up the camera to record a single, static shot, in much the same way a photographer would capture a still image. This is not something that would immediately occur to me as a videographer used to capturing a narrative through action and movement. It has certainly opened my eyes to the possibility of using the video camera in a different way than I have been used to so far.

What these videos have also shown me is that video art requires a different way of interacting with the moving image. Watching Lucy Purrington’s videos required me to find a way of observing her moving images that was different to that of watching a film in the cinema, for instance. It also required several viewings in order for me to appreciate the full picture. In some ways it was like watching a play by Samuel Beckett. This was quite an eye-opening experience.


MVI 1893, Lucy Purrington (2017). www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMx5cRAAzDg (Accessed on 10 April 2017)

29 03 17 1 overlay, Lucy Purrington (2017) www.youtube.com/watch?v=6srXHLvxEGE (Accessed on 10 April 2017)


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. MV 1893 (2017) Lucy Purrington

Figure 2. 29 03 17 1 overlay (2017) Lucy Purrington