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False Future

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Continuous color 16mm film projection installation with sound, cloth, steel cable,
10 minutes, dimensions variable
"False Future" (2007) takes up the story of Louis Le Prince, the little-known inventor who developed a working motion picture system at least five years before the Lumière Brothers. Had Le Prince not mysteriously disappeared aboard a train between Dijon and Paris in 1890 he would most likely be known today as the originator of cinema. "False Future" speculates on this false-start in the history of filmmaking, focusing on the drives and desires that lie behind the invention and reception of moving images. The title comes from the French verb tense, "faux future," often employed in history-writing and voice-over to knowingly anticipate the actions of historical figures. Narrating the past as if it is imminent or yet-to-happen, the author or speaker using this tense becomes a "clairvoyant," placing the reader or listener in the present tense of their story, "predicting" the actions of people in the past. In Le Prince’s case, the phrase "false future" also refers to a present that never was, to the influence over filmmaking that Le Prince never had, and our speculation on what might be different if filmmaking had begun five years earlier.

Echoing descriptions of Le Prince’s workroom, the installation displays a ten-minute film that restages one of the four films Le Prince is known to have made. We see a static shot of street- and foot-traffic on Leeds Bridge in Leeds, England, while a French-speaking voice relates and speculates on the events of Le Prince’s life. The film is subtitled in English.