The single-channel prelude to what would become an expanded, three-screen installation, Closer was commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella in 2001 for the touring programme, Unlimited Edition. Initiating an increasingly identifiable trajectory in Goodwin’s practice in which the unsolicited observation of individual subjects is shadowed by an uneasy feeling of complicity and encroachment, it materialises the ethical and emotional ambivalence inherent in the act of taking someone’s image.
Wandering the nocturnal streets of London’s Soho like a restless flâneur-cum-voyeur, Goodwin trains his camera on the lighted windows of offices, bars and restaurants, where people are sitting, immersed in everyday actions, or lost in a world of their own. Their unselfconscious demeanour exudes a powerful aura that draws Goodwin to them, as a photographer/film-maker, and as a fellow human being. Zooming in close, so close he can almost touch them, he manifests this urge to reach out and connect with the beam of a miniature laser pointer that plays gently, almost beatifically over his subjects’ faces; until, as if crossing an invisible boundary, it acquires a more unsettling, even sinister edge.