Jennifer West: Flashlight Filmstrip Projections  (3 stars)

Exploring Tramway's new exhibition by torchlight

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Jennifer West: Flashlight Filmstrip Projections 

Flashlight Filmstrip Projections is exactly as its title suggests: an exhibition of projections cast by torchlight using old filmstrip. Thankfully the literalness of the title doesn't extend to the artwork itself, which does leave some room for interpretation.

Before being ushered in behind a heavy curtain, visitors are each supplied with a powerful torch. And they need to be powerful, because for the occasion of Jennifer West's exhibition, the cavernous space of Tramway 2 has been plunged into total darkness. Even without the art, the unusual set-up is alluring. It's like trespassing on forbidden grounds; there's a feeling of adventure.

With eyes adjusted to the darkness, a maze of hanging screens reveals itself. Each is fitted with lengths of filmstrip that are variously scribbled on, painted and treated with all sorts of detritus. Shining the torch directly onto the screens only helps obscure their content further, but held at a distance the torch projects blurry shapes and images large onto vast gallery walls.

Moving through the space, hazy pictures glide, collide or fizzle out. The work comes to life when there are other visitors present: it's a lot easier to focus on projections cast at the other end of the gallery, and the 'delirious cinematic playground' as described in the show's press release makes more sense when there's more than one torch in use.

While Flashlight Filmstrip Projections feels exciting, the vagueness of the imagery – random filmstrip, areas of colourful abstraction, and occasionally some text – leaves a lingering sense of frustration. With much of the exhibition hidden in shadows, it'd be far more rewarding if the content was more specific or if the artist's intentions were clearer.

Tramway, until Sun 30 Oct.

Jennifer West: Flashlight Filmstrip Projections

American artist known for manipulating film strips.

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