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David Hall

UK, 1977
11 minutes, B&W, Sound, 4:3
Original format: SD video
Available formats: DVD / Digibeta tape / SD Digital file

TV Fighter is undoubtedly one of the few classics of British video art (Halls This is a Television Receiver is another). Not only does it merge the two distinct directions of the 70s video art movement – an exploration of the properties of video as a mechanical mode of expression, and a confrontation with the illusionism of broadcast TV – but it has a simplicity, economy and energy as rare then as it is today.Hall takes the point-of-view shot in its most dramatic and visceral form, by using archive footage of a fighter-plane strafing trains and ships at sea.. First we see footage as in a TV documentary. Then we see an [inner] screen of the same sequence.. An immediate and common illusion (but a perfectly logical one) is that this image shows the monitor at the moment we are watching it.. There is also an implied difference between kinds of time, which in this case is more complex and only part illusory: that is, between the historical time of the war footage.. and the time of shooting the monitor, which is akin to time present.. Hall at this point moves the camera to mimic the fighter approaching its target; the sound from the monitor in shot now becomes attached (a further illusion) to the moving camera and not the aeroplane represented.. As the [gunfire] sound rises.. the camera swoops in on the monitor…A further illusion concerns movement; the monitor gives the appearance of moving, although we can infer that this is achieved through the movement of the camera itself.. We are then presented with the image of a monitor with gun sights, showing on its screen a moving monitor with gun sights (over the image of the fighter-plane sequence). And finally, the camera moves so that it swoops and dives on the monitor showing the swooping and diving monitor…The means of linguistic description reach their limits here… An astonishing tour de force, TV Fighter has a confidence and élan which makes it highly watchable..

Michael OPray , TV Fighter review, BFI Monthly Film Bulletin, Feb., 1988.