Blissfully Gunned Down (1980-2013): LFMC 50: Notes from the Underground 1980-82/HELLO, LOOK AT THAT PICTURE... DO YOU SEE ME NOW? BFI

George Saxon (Artist), Anna Thew (Programmer)

Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchExhibition


Double Screen 16mm/Performance: Blissfully Gunned Down (2013) | BFI (Southbank NFT3), National Film Theatre, London 19 July 2016. Shown as part of Experimenta: LFMC 50: Notes from the Underground 1980-82/HELLO, LOOK AT THAT PICTURE…DO YOU SEE ME NOW. Curated by Anna Thew and Steve Farrer. Including film works by Cordelia Swann, Derek Jarman, Stan Brakhage, Klonaris/Thomadaki, Kurt Kren.
(commissioned as by BFI, Southbank, Lux London).
The original 16mm film negative was shot between1980 – 81. This uncompleted piece of film work was shelved and re-found in 2012, the footage was printed and finally performed ‘live’ as a twin screen 16mm film looped projection. With D. John Briscoe performing a staged death in these short film sequences. Saxon’s live performance with the film is an attempt to orchestrate and animate a synchronous and diagetic sound event on the optical track of the film. Saxon scratches onto the film; scoring the sound ‘live’, as the film runs through the projectors; reinforcing the visible source on the screen, as the rhythmic sound of the ‘shot’ gradually becomes present throughout the filmed action on screen.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputFilm
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2016

Additional Information

Blissfully Gunned Down

16mm twin screen loop (durational) performance (1980 – 2013), 15 min approx

This was an uncompleted piece of 16mm film work shot in 1980. Thirty-three years later the footage was found and restored. First performed at, London in October 2013.
The title and idea for this film (and subsequent performance) originated from a photograph by American photographer Ralph Morse, the image of a child in a cowboy outfit playing at being shot, with the caption "Blissfully gunned down while at play…”, Life magazine, circa unknown. I found the image in 1979. At the time, John Briscoe and I were developing work together; and interested in re-constructing a moment from this photo event. The re-staging of an image of someone being shot, whether the actors playing at being shot or the reportage still images of the moment of a (staged) death. The 16mm film footage fragments, bring to mind the Spanish Civil War photograph by Robert Cappa, showing a Republican soldier at the moment he was fatally hit by a bullet.

The performance of the work, realises the dualities of the filmic ‘shoot’ or the ‘shot’; and the hostile equivalent of the marksman or the shooter (the assassin), as a real-time event; ‘live’ optical actions that reconstruct the audible shot on the silent film projection. The sound is progressively visualized; in parallel to the off-screen acousmatic event.

This filmic game was shot in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire (John’s childhood playground), thirty-three years before his own death. The rediscovered footage from 1980; Blissfully Gunned Down, became the entry point post Briscoe's death in March 2013, towards what eventually became our final collaboration during his dying and death from terminal cancer (A Record of Undying, Saxon/Briscoe, 2014). The association of his death, disclosed as an ‘assault and a trauma’; became a return to actions with the materiality of film – the material of the body, echoed in its ‘acted and actual’ manifestation of death. The work is a staging of a death - a meditation on the screen violence of killing.

First performed at, London, October 2013 and as part of ‘A Record of Undying’ at Vivid Projects, Birmingham, 2014


  • film and media
  • Performance
  • on screen death


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  • A Record of Undying

    Saxon, G. & Briscoe, D. J., 3 Oct 2014

    Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchExhibition

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