THIS joint show is the last in a series of exhibitions at the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery highlighting artists working with the moving image. In the main space, and set over two floors, is a series of six works from pioneering film artist David Claerbout; in the Georgian Gallery, Rachel Maclean’s dark work for Scotland’s Venice Biennale show last year.

The two artists, whilst both sharing a use of digital technology to create new and unreal worlds, albeit worlds based in our own, create very different work. Claerbout’s is quiet and resonant, the manipulation of time and our sense of it acute and drawn out. Maclean’s is immediate, dramatic, magnifying the nightmares of our society.

Born in 1969 in Kortrijk, Belgium, Claerbout, now based in Antwerp and Berlin, creates works between the still and the moving image that question our experience of film itself. The work shown at Talbot Rice will be from the past decade of the artist’s career, including a small work, “Cat and Bird in Peace” (1996), which has been seen once before in Scotland at DCA, where Claerbout had his only Scottish show to date in 2005. The work is 6 minute 33 second loop of a cat and a bird in a box defying the usual predator/prey narrative – nothing, effectively, happens, but the tension (and the power of the video) lies in our preconception that something might.

Very little happening is a key part of Claerbout’s work, particularly when viewed on repeat. Time is played with and discombobulated, perception altered. The artist’s aim, Claerbout once said, was for the viewer to provide this change of perception. “The work itself doesn’t change much,” he said in a magazine interview in 2016, “it is the spectator’s own biological time that does most of the work.”

Other works shown include “The Pure Necessity” (2016), a reanimation of Disney’s film The Jungle Book with all the songs and anthropomorphisms taken out. “Travel” (1996-2013) and “Radio Piece” (2015) both continually play with our assumptions of where we and the camera, are. “The Quiet Shore” (2011) takes one moment on a beach and frames it from a variety of different angles, confusing and obscuring the event itself.

Rachel Maclean’s Venice work, “Spite Your Face” (2017), was part of a curatorial partnership between Talbot Rice and Alchemy Film for Scotland + Venice 2017, and is being shown in Scotland for the first time. Written when Donald Trump had just won the Presidential election and in the aftermath of the EU Referendum, it explores, amongst other things, notions of truth. The basis for the narrative, in which Maclean, as ever, acts out all the parts, is the Pinocchio tale of Italian folklore.

In Maclean’s disturbing telling, “Pic” makes a Faustian bargain to move from the poverty struck “lower world” to the glitzy “upper world” of the higher classes, selling his soul for a better life – although whether “better” is the right word is moot – from which he eventually falls. The film runs on a 37 minute perpetual loop which visitors can enter at any point. “Pic is caught in this perpetuity from which he can’t escape,” says Stuart Fallon, Assistant Curator at Talbot Rice. “He goes to a very dark place, but Rachel’s aesthetic allows her to talk to people in this place.” Parents, be warned.

Fallon tells me that they are in the midst of installing a plush navy carpet with gold fleck, gold curtains “to provide theatre at the entrance to the gallery”, and gold cushions on the benches. “Very classy!” he jokes. It is a far cry from the original setting in the deconsecrated Chiesa di Santa Caterina in Venice. “We always knew it would work in the church setting,” says Fallon of the vast portrait format film which was shown at the altar end of the church amidst bare architectural bones that were “a bit battered around the edges.”

“Maclean’s film is split between these upper and lower worlds, and in Venice, amidst all the dust of the church, you could say it was talking to the lower world, whereas here, in the grand Georgian Gallery, it’s talking to the upper world. It’s a quiet conceit,” Fallon says, referring to the added soft furnishings, although quiet is perhaps not the word that immediately springs to mind.

The diametrically opposing visual styles of Claerbout and Maclean, along with their touchstones of interest, should prove an interesting juxtaposition. “These are two different generations of artists,” says Fallon, “David pioneering since the 1990s; Rachel a new pioneer,” says Fallon. “There’s a nice cross-generational dialogue.”

David Claerbout and Rachel Maclean, Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh, 0131 650 2210 24 Feb-5 May, Tues-Fri, 10am-5pm, Sat 12pm-5pm.