Steve McQueen is a British artist and filmmaker. Born in London, England in 1969 he grew up in West London, and attended Drayton Manor High School. Before he began his career McQueen was a footballer, turning out for the St. Georges Colts football team. It was after his brief stint as a footballer that he turned his interests towards the arts. Beginning his studies at Hammersmith and West London College to complete an art A level. He then began studying art and design at Chelsea College of Art and Design and then fine art at Goldsmiths College; it was here he sparked an interest in film. In 1993 before beginning his career McQueen left Goldsmiths College to attend the Tisch School in New York City, which did not last long, for he found they were not experimental enough for him.
After his extensive schooling he immediately began his dissent into film and installation, beginning in 1993 with his first silent and major film Bear. He did not begin to work with sound in his films until 1998 when he filmed Drumroll. McQueen also had one major featured film called Hunger, which debuted in 2008. In between his film making McQueen ventured into installation, and in 2007 he created an installation called Queen and Country, which created a major amount of controversy.
McQueen’s films were and still are viewed as installations within a gallery, because while being films they are still considered works of art. He not only uses his films to create performance art and show his viewers that film can be seen as an art form, but he also focuses on the formal elements of film. A few of the elements that he focuses on are point of view, framing, camera movement, speed and lighting. Thus when the viewer watches the films they are not only taking in the story and narrative of the film, they are also seeing the processes that create the film, giving them a technical artistic quality.
The technical processes of film are really shown in a film he created in 1997 called Deadpan. The use of unusual camera angles, black and white film, contrasts of light and dark and no sound are classic tools used in narrative film. Each element brings the narrative together, even when there might not seem like there is one.
Deadpan is reminiscent of a Buster Keaton gag sequence, in particular his gag in Steamboat Bill made in 1928. The sequence has a side of a house collapsing on top of Keaton over and over again. Each collapse is filmed from a different angle to show that Keaton runs through a windstorm each time. The difference between the two films is that McQueen does not move in Deadpan. The viewer sees his feet rooted to the ground, not moving an inch even when the house collapses around him.
McQueen is not a typical performance artist, the difference being that he does not create outlandish gestures and facial expressions; he is instead unblinking and colossal. Where it is apparent that he should be twitchy, his chest to tighten in nervousness, he should have...