Matthew Noel-Tod was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1978
He studied at The Slade School of Fine Art, London (1997-1998),
Fachhochschule Aachen, Germany (2000)
and Norwich School of Art and Design (1998-2001)
He lives and works in Norfolk and London
'Nausea' (2005) presents video footage shot entirely on a mobile phone camera, a medium that is so readily a part of 21st century living that an association and understanding between the work being shown and the viewer is automatically established. It is overlaid in parts with non-sequential words taken from the existential novel of Jean-Paul Sartre from which it adopts its title, creating a visual environment suggestive of the constant interplay between the viewer and the viewed; the watched and the watching. The use of overlaid abstract syntax simultaneously brings together and breaks apart the diaristic flow of the piece; words come together as if to form a sentence that the viewer can relate to the flow of images, but as easily as a sentence is formed from these non-sequiturs, it can break down, leaving new image-text associations.
A discussion between Kaavous Clayton and Matthew Noel-Tod via email on 27th June 2006.
Kaavous Clayton: Do you watch 'Big Brother'?
Matthew Noel-Tod: Not much. I watched most of series 2, I think. I remember becoming incredibly depressed while watching it, or maybe I watched it because I was depressed. It was hard to tell. I stopped watching TV in 2002 and I haven't watched TV at home since. Now, when I go to peoples' houses where the TV is on I can't stop watching it, but I never get the feeling I've missed much in 4 years.
KC: That's a lot of information about your television watching habits. I was more interested in finding out if you feel there are any parallels between 'Nausea' and 'Big Brother', particularly the title sequence with the flashing words and the big eye.
MNT: Well, the short answer would have been "No", but there is definitely a correlation between my videos and what I watch, which is your question generally. However, specifically, no, there was no conscious decision to emulate the 'Big Brother' title sequence in 'Nausea'. The eye is a very potent symbol in cinema, my using it relate as much to Vertov's 'Kino-Eye', Hitchcock's 'Psycho' or Bunuel and Dali's 'Un Chien Andalou' as to that TV programme. It's my eye, which you see in 'Nausea', so the camera is turned back on me.
KC: It seems that in 'Nausea' there is a kind of 'Big Brother' reversal and integration where you are a contestant being filmed, a cameraman filming, a producer editing and audience member watching.
MNT: 'Nausea' is panoptic, meaning broad in scope or all-inclusive, but also 'everything visible in one view'. Relating to my video and what you say about 'Big Brother', I think panoptic is the most appropriate term. It's not really a video about surveillance as we understand it in society, because this kind of surveillance induces paranoia. I would say that precisely because I am doing all this concurrent watching and being observed myself, 'Nausea' is not paranoid. It was actually very enlightening and positive for me to make this video. The images and moments I capture in 'Nausea' are moments hidden from this surveillance of society, private moments and moments when I am often genuinely alone.
KC: But you have turned these private moments into public ones by presenting them to the world. By sharing these times and exposing yourself in a confessional manner are you trying to subvert the traditional form of surveillance?
MNT: I would say that I'm subverting the traditional form of the documentary, rather than solely the concept of surveillance. Documentary is a description I hate. Every documentary film or video creates its own fiction; moreover, every fiction has elements of documentary often more profound than derived from filming the "real" subject. The images in 'Nausea' are documenting things which happened to me; things that I saw, but it's obvious that the viewer sees them filtered through the distortion of the camera and the image / music / text montage. In that sense, I feel that my ideas about filmmaking and art are expressed publicly to someone who watches 'Nausea', but I don't think a viewer gets an explicit window onto my life, more that they get an impression that I create.
KC: I agree, everything is real, even fiction. As we have had to conduct this interview via email and I can't take a photograph of you can you email one of yourself please. Landscape and preferably taken on your phone.