Hollow be my Gaze: Richard Phillips and the Captured Sight of Empty

Posted: June 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

Though Richard Phillips is most well known for his slick, neo-realistic paintings of celebrities the above film, Lindsay Lohan Transformed, was Phillips first attempt at the celebrity filmic portrait.

Shot in collaboration with the penultimate surf filmmaker Taylor Steele, The 90-second film was filmed at Lohan’s Malibu abode where the actress is under house arrest (per violation of breaking probation in a 2007 drink driving case). The “house arrest” motif is meant to resonate in the footage by a juxtaposition of the freedom of the sea (the uncontainable flow of water and the unrestricted ocean) and the ankle monitor which is secured to Lohan to keep her electronically constrained to the house. Lohan’s beauty, meant to interconnect with the staggering questions of the potentiality of liquids and its ungraspable surfaces and depths of water, instead cycles back on itself (even cinematically) and becomes empty mediocrity and postured annoyance.

The Lohan “exposure” will screen at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Venice, Italy, June 1 – 5, 2011, concurrent with the 54th international exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

Sasha Grey is the second of the “visual portrait videos” to be made by Richard Phillips and is also included in the selection of films “Commercial Break”.

The Films location is John Lautner’s Chemosphere House which is located off of the famous Mulholland Drive (recorded in classics from Day of the Locust to Lynchian icon) in Los Angeles. Phillips lingers on the most superficial aspects of the structure, its 50’s Ufo structure, outside House lift (elevator), and facing windows with the views looking down on the San Fernando Valley.  Reflecting this ubiquitous and uniformed gaze (which encloses the filmic representation on the house) Ms. Grey who is meant to be served (and “served” is the correct term here) to the viewer as cinematic nuance, erupts instead as universal filmic faux-spectacle.

Phillips chaffs against what he cinematically means, “For my film portrait of Sasha Grey, I wanted to focus on her expressive and psychological transformation into a cinematic actor, separate from the cues that have associated Sasha with her previous career as a performance artist working within the adult film world.”

Most Wanted, Richard Phillips, 2009

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