so the last question and possibly the “biggee”. answered over several attempts this answer evolves very much in the manner in which this commission has.
so sitting comfortable with minh-ha’s essay as company ….. question 4 ….
4) What ‘artistic’ elements/formal features (sound/darkness; the artist’s hand; the camera on the train etc) did you explore in the last round of filming? how might you take these into the next round of filming in the decant phase?
i like this question, it sets out an opportunity to comment, review, reflect.
minh-ha states there is no such thing as documentary(1). a great start and so we can state whatever we want to be documentary – so my non linear project is a non linear documentary and this fits with the concept that documentary is a continually re-emerging form of practice.(1)
minh-ha continues that documentary exists due to the response to cinema and the control over which this has of narrative. documentary being an independent voice for informing the viewer of something. i love how minh-ha describes cinema as a means of indoctrination and comment because of its capacity for ‘observing and selecting from life itself'(2).
the formal feature of non linearity is an emerging narrative form (at the time of writing) and borrows from the cinematic tradition of observing and selecting from life and challenges the tradition by extending this through to the viewer.
my foundation artistic element is the first person view. made by my choice of recording equipment it gives me the ability to be present with those in the shot in a manner that doesn’t impede their natural actions within the activity.
the project can define itself as documentary as in creating the project i’m making selection, elimination and co-ordination of natural elements that are factual(2). – they happened.
there’s a caveat though – it’s a non linear documentary – an emerging documentary form.
it sits well with how the museum wants to see itself once it’s open – social, democratic, using the past to inform the present and inspire the future.
reading on into minh-ha’s essay he covers ‘honest’ and ‘manipulative’ in documentary.(2)
i get how a linear documentary has the potential to be honest and at the same time manipulative because of the methods and intentions adopted in the production of the work.
minh-ha examines the methods of recording and using sound in documentary. in shimmering place the sound is synchronised (when there is accompanying video) as for me this is an absolute essential component of the final work. the sound is recorded binaurally so when listening on headphones the listener will hear exactly what i heard – it’s more than likely that there is spatial information included in the sound recordings – i’m vague as the hearing in my left ear has reduced spectral range which makes stereo imaging compromised for me in a particular frequency range.
an artistic decision made with the second tranche was to set the angle of view from the camera as fixed. so instead of having a static camera and using zoom as a means to get closer or further away, i’ve physically moved to create a dynamic shot. the majority of shots are presented in real time. occasionally i have used editing to shorten the shot to make it easier to watch.
the video content for the most part has had only a light touch of post production on it to get as close to the original colours as possible. (bounded by my production screen.)
a formal feature of the project is the choice to use only sound recorded in the space – there is no additional voice over. we hear what happened, we see what i saw(3)
The lift is fab … It really works as you feel like you’re in it – I guess that’s the link with the hand closing the door : )
complimenting the observed are the artist moments – observations and interactions with the building placing the viewer into the action, making a phycological connection for them. these are carefully managed within the project to give a balance to the observations.
the lift is special. i chose to focus the viewers attention on the sound of the lift in this tranche. it reminds me of the lift in steve mcqueen’s western deep.
“truth has to be made made vivid, interesting, it has to be dramatised….” trinh t minha-ha(3).
what emerged for me while putting the project together was the feeling of calm in what i was observing. this realisation came to me in response to being involved operationally in the museum elsewhere. so artistically i’ve tried to convey how being involved in the activities in the silk mill has a benefit to one’s wellbeing. its subtle so i look forward to hearing what your reaction to this is.
the museum promotes means by which one can become involved with the museum. the project speaks of this through how the documentary becomes viewable through the involvement of the viewer.(4)
i’ve not commented so far on the sound extensions. these are sound files that run after the video has finished. they extend the experience of the project. they are set to loop so in an exhibition setting will punctuate the ambient state of the space. the silk mill museum is a place of very diverse sound. the extensions are an experiment based on feedback from the first tranche.
“reality is more fabulous, more maddening, more strangely manipulative than fiction.” trinh t minh-ha (5)
its about technique – aesthetics of documentary. i’m documenting the museum as a place to be with people, making, doing, talking – informed by the collection, being done now, watched in the future present.
in rewriting this post i’m arriving at a different conclusion from the first version. i chose to rewrite it as i felt i could do better.
minh-ha’s essay lost me from about half way through. the essay seems to end around the notion of how documentary balances out injustice. i’m a realist. if you don’t look you won’t find.
for tranche 3 i’ll use all the artistic / formal features from the first two and as its tranche 3 there will be new ones too as the space will be saying something new. a question for me to answer is as well as listening to the building who will be present to listen to ? from what i’ve done so far i haven’t set anything up to film – its all what has been there to observe. how might this be different in the coming months ? it felt unknown beginning the second tranche and the third feels even more so now.
maybe the third version will be more about the dialogue i have with the building as i encounter those working there. that statement fills me with calm – its simple, to the point and understandable.
it infers using the same technical set up that made the second. it infers being present at progress meetings within the space. it infers needing to research being onsite during the building work. this is a shift from thinking about tranche 3 preceding today.
and it feels good.
(1) stallabrass: documentary page 68
(2) stallabrass: documentary page 69
(3) stallabrass: documentary page 70
(4) stallabrass: documentary page 71
(5) stallabrass: documentary page 73