Loose Disclaimer (2000)
[part of the Flasher (1996 – ) series]
6 x 1 minute videos recorded onto the ends of VHS feature films rented from (then returned to) video stores.
6 x 10” x 8” production still photographs
Commissioned by Site Gallery, Sheffield.
The text on the sign in Loose Disclaimer carries a standard legal disclaimer used for works of fiction, particularly within film and TV:
The characters and incidents portrayed and the names herein are fictitious and any similarity to the name, character and history of any person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Loose Disclaimer is made up of a series of six one minute video sequences each showing a film’s disclaimer on a sign being illuminated by a marine distress flare in different locations around the periphery of a city at night. As the flare burns out to darkness the girl who performs the illuminations speaks (in voice-over) of the disparity between her experience of performing her actions in the video and her experience of watching it; another form of disclaimer.
A film’s disclaimer is presented to avoid potential litigation. It states that what you’ve just watched was ‘only a film’. It’s a terse, awkward and disingenuous way of asking an audience to put the film ‘behind them’. Coming at the end of the credits it occupies a dark space; a limbo land that briefly separates cinematic ‘fiction’ from the reality of everyday life either side of the film event. In Loose Disclaimer this text is ‘broken’ off the end credits of a film, to now enter the cinematic space itself, roaming around in the darkness of a limbo world.
Using a technique Chodzko had created in his Flasher series, in Loose Disclaimer a girl, (Sally Allington, a close friend of Chodzko’s), illuminates the disclaimer text and its surrounding space with distress flares. She shows it to be occupying another kind of marginal space from the end of a film credits, the edges of a city at night. In six one minute sequences (lasting the duration of the flare’s burn) we see the ‘disclaimer’ sign being presented, or resting, in various locations. There’s a woodland, a track, underneath a pylon, to a hill top. If watched in ‘order’ (although they are not labelled as such) each sequence and site is located gradually closer to the city (Sheffield), with the disclaimer sign to be abandoned once the city lights finally become visible.
When each video sequence fades to darkness as the flare burns out, the girl with the disclaimer sign is heard criticising the appearance of the footage you’ve just watched. How, her perception of it from beyond it seems better or worse than her experience of being ‘in’ it. Her remarks provide an apparently real, informal, unscripted disclaimer to the slippages between realities that has taken place in the footage she illuminated.
These six Loose Disclaimer sequences were recorded by Chodzko (illegally and anonymously) onto the ends of separate feature films that he had rented from video hire shops, adding the footage to the section of surplus black tape that doesn’t carry any image, a few seconds after the credits finish. He would then return the modified tapes to the video store hoping that the next person to hire the film might leave it running, and so might discover his signal. By dispersing the six sequences across separate feature films and their potential viewers a community, bringing together their whole, could exist in the imaginary. Gallery exhibitions of this work presented the six production stills and an accompanying explanation while the Loose Disclaimer videos were (exclusively) out there in the public domain*.
Loose Disclaimer embodies Chodzko’s ongoing exploration of endings and the zone between reality and fiction (see also Moon Stealing, From Beyond, Reunion; Salò, The Pickers, etc) whilst also relating closely to his works involving site, signalling and signage and their publics (eg: Flasher, Better Scenery, Next meeting:… etc) and also connects to his works that deal specifically with legal connections between people and place (eg: Settlement, and Hostile Environment etc).
*The six sequences were also interspersed within the video programme Electric Earth an internationally touring British Council video exhibition (2003-2006).