AboutCHELSEA Futurespace, in association with Westminster City Council, Futurecity, and the London Festival of Architecture are delighted to present Traceurs: to trace, to draw, to go fast , a series of artist's films by Layla Curtis.
Using heat-seeking cameras, Curtis has filmed âtraceurs' (practitioners of Parkour), recording their unorthodox movements and alternative routes through the city landscape. Made popular through advertisements and action movies, Parkour is an urban acrobatic activity dedicated to moving from one place to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using principally the abilities of the human body. Essentially a âstreet' movement like graffiti art, the highly disciplined and skilled traceurs move mostly undetected through the urban environment. Like skateboarders, traceurs confront the urban fabric and through their practice are some of our most acute architectural critics, unlike graffiti, however, Parkour leaves no mark.
Layla Curtis wanted to trace the untraceable and record the tracks and routes left by traceurs through a variety of locations in the City of Westminster, investigating and documenting 'alternative' routes and passages, and new ways of moving through the city. In response to the almost impossible challenge of recording this virtually invisible activity, Curtis investigated the potential of using a thermal imaging camera to record the heat traces of footprints and handmarks etc left on obstacles and buildings.
The resulting series of films are beautiful and grainy, a kind of temporal drawing in black and white, contrasting with the more familiar highly coloured palette of thermal imaging. The viewer is invited to watch almost still, greyish images of walls, trees, and roofs until a shock of white fills the screen for an instant as the traceurs leap between obstacles. Gradually all traces fade away and we are left once again with the grainy blank façade of the city.
Layla Curtis's thermal films of Parkour - the flourish of human activity and the resulting trace, have their art historical precedents in Hans Namuth's films of Jackson Pollock making an âaction' painting, or Yves Klein's âAnthropometry' series where the artist directed naked models to cover themselves in paint and drag each other across paper. The fading away of Curtis's Parkour handmarks, scuffs, and footprints also reminds us of âEntropy' or the transformation and degeneration of materials, such as the eroded land art of Robert Smithson or a canvas painted with acid in the âauto-destructive art' of Gustav Metzger.
Parkour and Layla Curtis's attempts to film such transient events are, to quote Yves Klein, - A Leap into the Void.
Director of Exhibitions: Donald Smith 020 7514 6000 ext. 3710 firstname.lastname@example.org
A screening of independent filmmaker Julie Angel's documentary, 'The Making of Traceurs: to trace, to draw, to go fast', will take place at the ICA on Saturday 21st and Thursday 26th June 2 - 3.30pm. The trailer for Julie Angel's documentary may be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPjO0OTe-zs
A publication about the project which includes an essay by Richard Grayson, will be available from Chelsea Futurespace.