I attended an evening course at the LUX recently, and saw range of artists’ films from their archive: Margaret Tate’s film poems, Stan Brackhage & Carolee Schneeman’s painterly films, Kurt Kren’s structural experiments, John Smith’s witty montages. The course inspired me to try working more freely with photographs and static shots, to think differently about combining still images with moving ones, and about ways of constructing rhythms, loops, stanzas. I particularly remember Kurt Kren’s film Trees in Autumn, images of tangled, bare branches shot as single frames and appearing on the projection screen in rapid-fire succession. The silhouettes are cracks or ruptures across the screen, the flashing lines seem aggressive, violent but then you catch sight of a little bird in one of the trees. It is rhythmic, systematic but it is also natural and bodily. The images are suggestive of veins, synapses; also of shattered glass and explosions.
I’ve been reading an interesting essay by Ellen Mara De Wachter that discusses Laura Buckley’s work in relation to Paul Virilio’s notion of ‘picnolepsy’. De Wachter describes flows and interruptions, staccatos and fragmentations in Buckley’s installations that ‘correspond to the conflicted nature of consciousness’. Virilio’s state of picnolepsy, induced to some extent by speed and technology, refers to the disorienting montage of our vision and hearing, the cut-up of sounds and images we are constantly receiving, negotiating. I think again of Marie Menken and her ‘stop-start sensibility’.
My first animation tests seem to describe something of this staccato montage, and suggest a kind of dialogue between industry and nature. The disjunctive cuts and snap-shot rhythms are very much mechanical, processed representations of the garden. The machine is also ever-present through the hum of cars and planes in the audio recordings.
On my to-do list for the next week is: shoot some more reels of slide film (possibly using a magnifying glass to look closer at plant details), order more stock, cut and mount a selection of frames from the first 4 reels and do some projection experiments. I’d like to try superimposing two or more slides from a series – to combine multiple views of the same scene in a different kind of montage…