The Gain Line’ is a moving-image art work by Ravi Deepres. The title refers to an invisible line on the rugby field that measures teams’ forward progress and their territorial advantage over their opponents. Throwing their bodies into the fray to surpass it, and putting their bodies on the line to protect it, players attach inordinate importance to getting beyond this symbolic threshold on the pitch. Beneath the high-impact challenges that take place along this notional frontline, there is another ‘gain line’ players and coaches aspire to reach – one that parallels the rush of competing players with a swarm of chaotic, sometimes conflicting data, captured by a new generation of sensors that players wear in training, and in matches. Although rugby is a visceral, physical sport (‘no pain, no gain’ its philosophical mantra) it is also one that increasingly monitors and mobilises a range of sophisticated technological data (including GPS, heart rate and other readings).
Combining insights gained from this new digital field, while also transporting us back to the historical origins of the game, Deepres’ work captures the intensity and dynamics of the sport while also evoking some of the physical and psychological forces it sets in motion.
Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Rugby Art Gallery and Museum in partnership with Phoenix, Leicester and ICIA, University of Bath. Film and Video Umbrella is supported by Arts Council England.