“Freud’s House: The Double Mirror” by Brass Art

  • ©2015, Brass Art_person, Freud's House: The Double Mirror


    Freud's House: The Double Mirror

Artist(s) and People Involved:



Creation Year:



    Single-channel video split to two projectors





Artist Statement:

    Freud’s House: The Double Mirror Brass Art’s new work forms the second chapter of an ongoing project (Shadow Worlds | Writers’ Rooms) and allows them to enter the domestic spaces that selected authors occupied. For this recent project they investigated the Freud Museum, London having previously explored the Brontë Parsonage, Haworth. During a period of residency, the artists inscribed themselves into the domestic space of Sigmund Freud’s former London home. Using Kinect laser-sensors and Processing software to capture intimate-scaled performances throughout the rooms, staircase and hallway, Brass Art developed a visual response to the notion of the uncanny using strategies of repetition and simultaneous ‘doublings’.

    The Resonant Site. The allure of visiting Writers’ rooms or homes brings the promise of direct experience re-enervating the writing or legacy of the works, as the site of creative inspiration or toil, offers up something of the personality or circumstances of the writer. Writers’ Rooms, as an investigation of simple, domestic spaces, creates the possibility of thinking about the everyday, the ordinary and the familiar as the most vivid potential sites for uncanny revelation and transformation. In re-animating the ‘familiar’ domestic spaces of chosen authors – via hallways, staircases, private and public rooms Brass Art’s sojourn invites a re-evaluation of each of these spaces, with their particularities and peculiarities.

    Any collection has restrictions put upon it for the conservation of the artefacts these are obvious and explicit and Brass Art have pushed these as far as possible performing, sometimes in an uncontained way, within circumscribed, hallowed spaces. There is an interesting dimension to playing ‘beyond the walls’ of the museum or heritage site; in this moment the space is alive to being re-worked and reanimated. Perhaps less clear are the unspoken restrictions around the mythography of the subjects: who owns or directs those, and what that might mean for the emergence of potential counter narratives created by the artists. Their performances with capture technologies, create an unfixed and constantly evolving form: a direct copy of the original space a double but with shifting and unexpected points of view in immeasurable time periods, with their doubles the surprising and submerged occupants. These out-of-hours temporary occupations bringing props and costumes, set the scene for a gesture, movement or dance to evolve. The identities the artists adopt in response to the sites are specific, recurring and other. Being both present and also absent (through the use of disguise) is vital to the way they translate and give ‘form’ to the space. Thus duration articulates space; and practiced space becomes place.

    The Double Mirror. ‘Doubling offers another disturbing and yet familiar set of personae in ways of telling the self; permutations of inner and outer selves catalyse uncanny plots about identity’ (M. Warner, Fantastic Metamorphoses, 2004, 161-203). This notion of doubling underpins Brass Art’s collaborative practice, enabling them to examine intimate ideas and move beyond the private self. Their intention to copy and perform others’ actions was important from the outset. The idea of using repetitive actions and sonic refrains gave them the opportunity to create a piece that would flow through the spaces of the house – moving both in and out of step with time. Thus, ‘the double’ in this work is a signifier of the uncanny experience, triggering a sense of the familiar yet strange. Sharing disguises and attempting to mimic each other’s movements and gestures results in a mirror-image performance where the protagonists ‘refuse’ to replicate their doubles. In the editing and redrawing process something unexpected occurs – the protagonists switch, move in and out of step with linear time, and extend the dream-like register of the piece. Retrospectively the artists themselves cannot always be sure who inhabits a particular role; identities are submerged and disrupted, and thus the doubling succeeds in ungrounding them. In terms of Brass Art’s creative process this playfulness is crucial.

    The Haptic Light. The unnatural and inexplicable bringing to light of something (which surely ought to remain hidden) has particular resonance in Brass Art’s use of the Kinect sensor, in that it allows walls to appear permanently permeable, ‘revealing’ the reverse of the scene as the scanner rotates. The inexplicable light is comparable to the scanner-eye of the Kinect laser rolling over and skimming surfaces until it renders the scene (unseen by the artists at that point) in shimmering pixels. This supposed ‘revelation’ of the literal fabric of the building can be seen as another ungrounding – the passage from home to unhomely. The artists recall Thomas De Quincey’s development of the spatial uncanny, doomed to forever repeat the same futile movements through spaces, staircase and corridors. Anthony Vidler sees him, “… caught in a vertigo en abîme of his own making, forever climbing the unfinished stairs in the labyrinth of carceral spaces.” (A. Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely 1992, p.37)

    During the sojourn in Freud’s house, ambient audio was simultaneously captured by electroacoustic composer Monty Adkins. He recorded fleeting and involuntary aspects of the performances and coaxed sounds out of long-dormant objects. The resulting audiovisual work takes the form of a two-screen ‘double’ digital video installation. This pixelated and seemingly fragmented re-imagining of Freud’s house reveals exactly what is there and what is ‘unseen’ as the Kinect footage appears to bisect walls. Brass Art create a dynamic exploration of the domestic interior as a site of creativity, measuring the space through their bodily presence and a virtual ‘peeling back’ of the architectural layers. The accompanying soundscape, experienced binaurally, evokes the intimacy of being in the space itself; synthesizing the gestures and movements of the artists with creative data visualisation processes. This synthesis of digital data (performance) and field recordings (site) offers a new spatial approach for electro-acoustic composition, and a novel reading of the historic/cultural sites revealed via scanners as part of a process of ‘re-translation’.


    The work was commissioned by University of Salford’s Commission to Collect Programme, and acquired by University of Salford, UK for their collection. Brass Art are represented by The International 3, Manchester and supported by University of Huddersfield, Manchester School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art.




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