In its West Coast debut, Grahame Weinbren’s Frames is an interactive cinema installation based on Hugh Diamond’s photographs of psychiatric patients made in the 1840s and ‘50s. Probably the first photographs of the insane, they were used not only for record-keeping but also as a diagnostic tool. Diamond developed a kind of iconographic technique in collaboration with Dr. John Connolly, evaluating the patient’s condition by analyzing the photo. Connolly’s descriptions of the photographs find the patients’ symptoms in gestures, facial expressions and other details.

In the exhibition, gold frames are suspended in front of large projected images. The frames contain sensors and, similar to a two-player video game, visitors interact with the piece by pointing through the frames. The aim is to transform projected images of performers into figures from Diamond’s photographs. However, unlike the standard video game, success is based on finding a slow and measured rhythm rather than frenetic speed, which results in images of endless staircases leading nowhere. The image/description pairings produced by viewers’ interactions are powerfully evocative and provide a window into an era long past. At the same time, they question the stability of the relationship between inner symptom and outer expression and insinuate that pictorial representation is never objective or value-free.

February 06, 2002 to May 06, 2002
Opening Reception: 
February 6, 2002 - 4:52pm