FACT commissioned short film on Channel 4 tonight (Fact, 11 March 2013)

A naked man and woman. He gives her flowers. They are happy and in love. Time passes. They hate each other. She murders him. She is happy.

David Austen’s Happiness is the next Random Acts short for Channel 4 and hits our screens at 00.05am tonight.

In the form of a demonstration of human gender traits, the work is reminiscent of a scientific display of human prowess, harking back to the era of the earliest black and white film clips in Edison’s peep shows.

Austen explores the range of human emotion in his other works. In Game of Love, a film exhibited at MoMA in 2011, Austen enlisted 12 actors to perform on the empty stage of a London theatre, each presenting a cameo of heightened emotion making up an intense 60 minute loop.

In The Gorgon’s Dream, a recent work, premiered for the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2012, Austen explored the classical myth of the same title, using a small bronze Cellini sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum as his inspiration. The sculpture features the head of Medusa clutched in a fist, an image that Austen found strangely reminiscent of a Lee Miller photograph in which a woman clasps her own hair. A haunting interpretation of a gruesome tale, this piece is a short black and white film that screened inside the grandiose and evocative venue of the Robert Burns Monument in Edinburgh.

In an exhibition for Ingleby Gallery titled My Love, I have been digging up my own bones in the garden again, Austen presented a mix of large watercolours, bold text paintings and film work. One watercolour of a tree bearing huge bulging, unusual fruit juxtaposes a soaring headless man and a strange coloured mobile hanging from the ceiling. Austen puts us in an alternate world in this exhibition, his pieces the architecture of a fragile emotional space. Read a review of this exhibition by Rosalie Doubal.

Taking influences from a wide range of sources, Austen’s work is captivating in its precision and emotional accuracy. To see more of Austen’s work, check out his website.

Fact website link