Let’s Reset The Clock: Family footage to remediate distance created by mourning

Elsa Gomis

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Let’s Reset the Clock (from French On va remettre les pendules à l’heure), is a two-and-a-half minute colour video that uses a split screen to remove distances and puts two characters – one alive, one deceased – face to face. For img Journal Issue 03, I propose to discuss the topic ‘Remediating distances’ from this art video I made when my grandmother passed away. This would allow to discuss ways of remediating distance created by the loss (1) and to remediate distance through images (2).

1.To remediate distance created by the loss
There is the space of what was and can no longer be, and there is the space of memory. Between the two is a feeling of absence and, sometimes, of loss.
Through the use of family footage included in Let’s Reset the Clock, I illustrate my feeling of grief and attempt to remediate the distance between the living and the dead. With aim to erase this distance, I filmed myself while watching images of my grandmother that have been shot by my grandfather at the beginning of the 1960s. While watching images of her, I mimic a connection that no longer exists, and create a new relationship that now can only be found through fiction, within the space of an artwork. On this, Let’s reset the clock constitute utopia of a travel through time. Or rather, it recreates what Michel Foucault defined as a heteropia, a place which exists in the space where the imagination resides, in the child’s playhouse where one can find one’s grandmother again. By using images to create this imaginary space, Let’s Reset the Clock recalls Christian Marclay editing work The Clock (1985). In this film, the American artist challenges corridors of time by assembling various footage of well-known and lesser known films around a clock running for 24 hour in real time. With Let’s Reset the Clock I suggest that playing with images can remediate distance between temporal and spatial spaces that separates me with my grandmother. Yet even in this game, the interaction does not always work. A mourning process is thus proposed: that of playing a broken game, of facing someone who can no longer by found, even through a trick.

2.To remediate the distances thanks to images
Let’s reset the clock also constitutes a reflection about images. It is part of a broader set of artworks in which I question my colonial European identity through the use of my grandfather footage. My family fled Franco's Spain to migrate to Algeria at the time it was a French territory. I only know this country and the story of migration which for me accompanies it, through old films footage shot by my grandfather. I have digitalised these images which constitute a time-window towards a bygone era of French history and a knowledge on my family past. The ‘mise en abyme’ arranged when filming myself looking at these archives is a way to consider this footage as part of my own imaginary. Through this act of family archaeology, I stage my identity and, in the same movement, when facing the camera in the end, I break the mise en scène and take distance from this identity. On this, remediation proposed by Let’s reset the clock is close to Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) in which main protagonist tries to escape gloom of her existence by watching ceaselessly same film until being part of it. Distance provided through the mediation of images would thus saves us from such a disappointing reality and allows us to explore other hitherto unnoticed possibilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-263
Number of pages6
JournalIMG Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2020


  • distance
  • grief
  • heterotopia
  • family footage
  • imaginary

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