“O’Reilly proposes to make a film that re-scripts grandiose sources, employing the rhetoric of political power and technological might to tell of humble victories.”

We may impress our own lifetime on history by leaving a genetic or cultural legacy, but we might feel that our standing is insufficient to make any comparable ideological impression. We can express this dislocation between the perceived scopes of the individual and history in terms of power, weight and impact – terminology that evokes machinery, engines, the overcoming of gravity for utilitarian ends. The empowered write the history books, as they say, but what if we built an engine of influence, which runs on the fuel of history itself, to give more power to our elbows?

O’Reilly proposes to make a film that re-scripts grandiose sources, employing the rhetoric of political power and technological might to tell of humble victories. The narration of centuries will be filleted and compacted to relate fleeting episodes in singular lives. By re-editing public service announcements, historical speeches and pedagogical documentaries, the language of achievement and promise will be diverted to recount modest accomplishments, common fears and minor improvements in everyday lives.

Gearing Up will represent moments of convergence and divergence between very different power structures, where individual desires and societal aims interrupt and reassert one another. The stories narrated will express this sensation of being in and out of phase, of fluctuating between the centre of our own time on earth and at the remotest periphery of universal epochs. The script for the film will be written from a meld of fictional and real sources, with the anecdotal embellished with absurdist departures and the fantastical made plausible through apparently credible detail. It will convey the strange brew – of the knowable, the impossible to grasp and the incorrectly assumed – that we call our ‘understanding’, and articulate how at times we feel out of step with history, at others as if we cannot escape the historical circumstances into which we are born.
The audio (the spoken script) will be edited together from cut-up sound tracks of found footage; the imagery will comprise new footage of quotidian machines that have been rendered unrecognisable. The back of a fridge or the underside of a car will become alienated familiarities, ambivalent landscapes where these stories, it is insinuated, have taken, or are taking, place.

Sally O’Reilly is a writer and filmmaker, contributing regularly to many art and culture publications, including Art Monthly, Art Review, Cabinet, Frieze and Time Out, and has written many essays and short fiction for international museums and galleries. Her book The Body in Contemporary Art was published by Thames & Hudson in 2009 and she was co-editor of the thematic, interdisciplinary broadsheet Implicasphere (2003-8). She also makes video documentaries, has curated and produced numerous performative events and was co-curator of the Hayward Touring Exhibition ‘Magic Show’ (2009–10). She was writer in residence at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (2010–11), and producer and co-writer of The Last of the Red Wine (2011), a radio sitcom based in the artworld. She is currently writing a novel, Crude, about art, flirting and the oil industry.

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