Published in The Skinny
The title of Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth’s new Edinburgh Festival commission might suggest a work that is rather spectacular. ‘Staged’ is a term often used to allude to all that is amplified, visually seductive and riddled with exaggerated fakery. Likewise press releases for the show describe a project that seeks to document the ‘human drama’ that invades the city every August.
Yet sitting quietly at the summit of Edinburgh’s Carlton Hill, ‘Staged’ uses a mixture of live feed CCTV and pre-recorded footage to chronicle the 2010 festival with a lightness of touch that is almost imperceptible. Projected floor to ceiling onto every wall of the small, sweltering box that is The City Observatory, many of the images depict Edinburgh in the abstract, focusing on the pattern of light on rooftops in a way that feels more referential of the visual history of painting than the rampant cavorting of theatrical display.
For centuries the human race has been compelled to recreate its environment via art and the production of imagery. What began with cave paintings and experiments in pinhole photography, now finds form in reality TV and the popularity of camera phones. What Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth have understood about the 21st century manifestation of this phenomena, is that as our access to digital image media increases, so does our tendency to record the painfully mundane. While trying to concentrate on out of focus CCTV images of an empty city bar at lunchtime, it’s impossible not to wonder if all of this voyeurism is really as entertaining as we think.
Back outside on Carlton Hill the air is fresh, some kids are running about playing football and an American tourist is bitching at his wife about the fact that their dog has just taken a shit in the grass. It’s a human drama all of its own and its only a matter of time before someone takes a photograph of it.