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Cat on the Shoulder

Furthering his interest in film and filmmaking as subject matter, Adrià Julià presents a group of new works focusing on the relationship between the camera and the body at 18th Street Arts Center. The exhibition’s title, Cat on the Shoulder, references a late-1960s theoretical model for motion picture cameras developed by French manufacturer Aaton that evolved camera technology to fit the cameraman’s physique and pushed filmmaking into new political terrain by adapting it to the needs of a new cinema, one which was to tell of the place of man in the city.

Cat on the Shoulder represents the culmination of Julià’s two-month residency at 18th Street Arts Center and marks the beginning of a new body of work the artist will continue to develop and produce. During an initial research phase, the artist investigated the effects and changes that cameras produce in the bodies that operate them. Moving past a consideration of the materiality and physicality of film as form, he addresses the somatic connection of filmmaking to the human figure. Working within layers of translation between the moving image, industrial design, and ergonomics, Julià’s work analogizes the structure and function of commercially produced cameras and the biomechanical systems of the body.

In an exhibition spanning film, photography and sculpture, Julià draws relationships between the corpus and camera, registering the transitions of process and materiality, thus linking the biological mechanisms of sight and vision to the inorganic mimicry of film and photography. Following and tracing correlations between the function of the human eye and the camera, Julià’s works call to mind how each records and produces an image, which our brain then responds to in order to construct meaning and indices of reality. While referencing optometry and the mechanics of vision, Julià marks the translations of materialized photographic media, thus questioning the nature of film’s ability to contain content and to transcend the limitations of memory.

Julià examines the ruptures in time and the aesthetic distances that are implied within the processes of photographic media. The chronological order of reality is suspended behind the looking-glass of film, as lived time becomes a contradictory experience through documentation. Julià’s 16 mm film Oscar Looking at the Black Cat (2013) toys with such vantage points through its subject, a fish in a fishbowl. Circling the distance between the fish itself, the viewer’s observation and cognition of the image, and the cinematic recorded register, the artist beckons us to consider our own sensory experience of the fish and an implied memory through our perception of the film. Julià seems to question whether remembrances of life are fixed or malleable, and how the act of physical, visual recording alters the truth of lived experiences.

Cat on the Shoulder represents an open-ended inquiry into the production of images in relationship to how history is performed. While researching questions that consider the layers of interpretation of the photographic medium, works in the exhibition alight on temporalities between of the transition of experiences, from what is lived to what is recorded, and the shapes and forms between these states. The work Melted Camera (2013), for example, presents the outcome of an experimentation of reducing an early 20th century Bell and Howell Eyemo 16mm camera into a sculptural object. Herein the various components collide into a mass and volume of material that may be observed for the sum of their parts, while the origin of the camera’s own history, purpose and functionality acquiesce to new interpretations.

Adrià Julià, born in Barcelona and based in Los Angeles, is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice encompasses film, video and photographic installations. Julià’s work has been presented in nearly two-dozen solo exhibitions and over forty group exhibitions worldwide. Recently projects include Love. Destiny. Heroes., at Dan Gunn in Berlin, Notes on the Missing Oh at Project Art Centre in Dublin, We’re Everything to Each Other at Lanchester Gallery Projects in Coventry, UK, and Three Artists Walk into a Bar at De Appel Art Center in Amsterdam. Additionally, Julià has shown at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, Insa Art Space in Seoul and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. He was included in the Lyon Bennial, the 7a bienal do Mercosul in Porto Alegre, Brazil and Art Unlimited, Basel, Switzerland.

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