Roles in Archive: Artist
b. 1983 Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
James Richards combines footage appropriated from television, movies, and the Internet, with film and video by himself and other artists. Richards’ project grows out of the work of the British Scratch Video artists of the 1980s, such as George Barber and Gorilla Tapes, both of whom exploited VHS technology to create rapid-fire remixes of found video material. However, though Richards’ work does occasionally share the cut-up, recursive qualities of these predecessors’ works, there is also a meditative aspect to his videos, which functions as a direct counterpoint to the breakneck pace of the contemporary media culture from which he excises his material. Active Negative Programme (2008) which incorporates three works by other artists: Lost things (1990) by Paul Bush, and Untitled (1990) and Revolutionary Cleaner (1995) by Chris Saunders; begins with a snippet of a promotional video for a piece of technology seemingly designed for maximum sensory overload, it is largely made up by almost torturously restrained vignettes; a talk show audience that seems perpetually poised at the edge of speech, a group of still and silent musicians in the midst of a photo shoot, a segment from a lip-reading tutorial where a woman talks soundlessly. The spell is only broken in the video’s cathartic final sequence, where a group of teenaged boys stage an exuberant impromptu dance party in the middle of a sleepy suburban street.