Ericka Beckman. Tension Building

Tension Building, 2012
16mm, HD, color, sound, 7 minutes
shot and edited by ERICKA BECKMAN


ERICKA BECKMAN is a filmmaker, photographer, installation artist and writer who started making short abstract films in the mid-1970s using Super-8 sound film. Neither documentaries nor narratives, her work is inspired by games, folklore and fairy-tale structures.

I am fascinated by stadium architecture because it is designed to provide two opposite viewing experiences, the visceral direct experience of watching a physical action close up and the passive experience mediated through filters of distance and delay. The Tension Building model features telescoping seating that expands and contracts like a folding cup, corresponding to the audience’s reactions to the wins and losses in the game being played below. -ERICKA BECKMAN for Mousse magazine

Tension Building (2012) is a composite of linked architectural spaces, some are real and some are models. It combines stop motion and live action filmmaking shot at the Harvard University Coliseum in Boston (1935) and the Municipal Stadium in Florence (1932), built in by LUIGI NERVI. It features Boston Symphony Orchestra percussionist RICHARD FLANAGAN, and the U Mass Minute Man Marching Band. ERICKA BECKMAN used her camera like a surveyor’s transit and created some rules for its path around the stadium.

I am interested in how we form mental images and how we can communicate them without words. My work is based on action, wether I use stop-motion animation, performance, silent film acting or sports. The physical process of making an object or a film brings with it a certain kind of concentration that I do not find when I work with an interface.

 Since 2000 my work has been the product of a direct interaction between my camera
and the space I shoot in. I shoot for very long concentrated periods of time, where I
deconstruct the architecture with my camera lens, creating animation sequences that
follow the lines of the building’s design. My goal is to make the architecture move as if
it had its own volition. I do use more sophisticated robotic equipment when I work
with model animation, but that work is secondary to my live action work where I
perform with the camera. Film can have all the physical action cues you need to believe
it is real, yet at the same time, films can produce an unfamiliar perceptual experience.

And good news: Ericka Beckman, Works 1978 – 2012*, the artist’s first comprehensive retrospective, is currently on view at Kunsthalle Bern and is running through August 4, 2013.

*This exhibition is accompanied by the publication of The Super-8 Trilogy, an 83 minutes DVD, with a booklet containing an introduction by DOUGLAS EKLUND, curator Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, as well as a conversation between the artist, LIONEL BOVIER and FABRICE STROUN. In the Spring of 2014 Kunsthalle Bern will publish a reference monograph of ERICKA BECKMAN featuring an essay by game theorist ERICK ZIMMERMAN.

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