The Stillness of Death
The Stillness of Death is a series of videos in which actors participate to replicate the stillness of death. They do not breathe, blink, or move while the camera is positioned so that the face is framed at a similar distance to that of Janet Leigh's in the shower scene for Psycho. Her absolute stillness was given extra weight by the fact that she was immortalised in the medium of moving image. Not only are the actors re-staging a performance in memory of what Janet Leigh did on the set of Psycho, but they are also experiencing, first hand, her struggle to remain so still for such a great length of time. Each actor I have worked with approached and experienced the challenge in a different way. The resulting videos can be mistaken for still images due to the lack of movement coming from the subject.
The title The Stillness of Death is taken from Laura Mulvey's essay on Psycho in her book Death 24x a Second, and is a nod to the illusion that the videos uphold: that what we are looking at is stillness, and we would not be able to understand it as stillness if it weren't for the moving image. Mulvey writes, The stillness of the 'corpse' is a reminder that the cinema's living and moving bodies are simply animated stills and homology between stillness and death returns to haunt the moving image. (Mulvey, 2006, p. 88).