Verfremdungseffekt: an idea central to the dramatic theory of the German dramatist-director Bertolt Brecht, It involves the use of techniques designed to distance the audience from emotional involvement in the play through jolting reminders of the artificiality of the theatrical performance. This effect is used in theatre and cinema to prevent the audience from losing itself completely in the narrative, instead making it a conscious critical observer. The (actor) accomplishes this by directly addressing the audience, barring them from feeling empathy, (film) by interrupting the narrative, drawing attention to the filmmaking or theatrical process.
It is tempting to project Sacha Meaden's 'partial' works into the 'whole' of David Ben White's paintings (where already he has assigned us, the audience, a place, although tellingly not in the front row. Are we moving forward or away from the show?)
But it is more valuable to accept Meaden's repeated proposition that we are materially here in the space we share with his work (within which space has been carefully framed out, excluded); one with the in-between we make ourselves part of as we move along. Led to consider what might take place in the interval.
In both there is something going on elsewhere. In the studiedly provisional world of Sacha Meaden's exhilarating sequences we move already convinced from one link in the argument on to the next, while in David Ben White's world the movement is not linear but a jump-cut presentation of simultaneous alternatives, set in front of interchangeable crowds of casual viewers. While we meanwhile are feeling part (or not part) of something bigger. Getting there.
What counts is our engagement or otherwise with what is being staged in front of us, the performance, the spectacle; and our complicity with it as we inhabit variously the space upon that stage. In the auditorium. In the crush bar and indeed finally in the gallery. The theatre moving from the procenium to the round. A constant re-framing.
This or that, or this and then that? Either way there's a definable authority in the way in which each artist settles us in position facing his work. (And before you know...)
"Before you know where you are, there you are" Stephen Sondheim, 'Merrily We Roll Along'