Bernard G Mills


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I wrote the following text for the exhibition at the Freeman Centre, University of Sussex which took place as part of the Brighton Festival Fringe 2008. The exhibition included material from the Mass Observation Archive and work by Lau Mun Leng as well as my contribution.

Bernard G Mills has a problem. He does not like to throw things away. He believes that objects have an inherent value and to discard things carelessly is to devalue the present. His studio houses a stack of objects that include record players, reel-to-reel tape recorders, radios, cameras (still and cine), projectors (still and cine), boxes of photographs, boxes of books, boxes of records, paints, drawing materials, papers, obsolete Macintosh computers, musical instruments as well as necessary photographic equipment. These items are stored with a view to them having a future role to play in his photographic and other activities.

Photography is part of the ‘struggle against dispersion’ (as Walter Benjamin phrases it) in that it is able to record the likeness of an object and then present an image of that

object which might declare, “Hey, look. I’m important. Look at me and consider my worth”.

Previous work has included a series of twelve photographs of his entire vinyl record collection (excluding seven-inch singles and seventy-eights) which developed from his idea of photographing books in people’s home libraries as a representation of the person to whom the library belonged. The photographs of the record collection evolved into a video installation—Title Roll—which was exhibited at the Friese Greene Gallery in Brighton in November 2007 and consisted of a video camera, mounted on an electrically driven dolly, which, via a live feed to a digital projector, presented a moving image of approximately 1200 record sleeve spines moving slowly up the screen like the end credits of a movie (but of two hours duration).

Due to a severe shortage of appropriate wall space, many of his treasured books are kept in boxes and it is the storage of books that he has chosen to consider for this exhibition.

A video made by Lau Mun Leng and which shows a snippet of both our exhibitions is to be found here but make sure you watch it to the end or you will not see me: