Some more research in the field of artists and film making. This is the final block of research before I head off next weekend for Latvia. So in order that I attended and came across them, here goes.
‘Tacita Dean – Looking to See’
I watched a recent episode of the BBC’s Imagine series titled ‘Tacita Dean – Looking to See’. This was a walk through of Dean’s career. What did I learn from watching this? Well, that her grand father founded Ealing Studios, so she pretty much as had film in her blood from an early age. The closest I can get to this is perhaps when I was a kid, my dad bought a film projector and showed films in the living room of our council house, using the wall as a screen. This was in the late 1970s / early 80s and the films were expensive and the titles limited. Anyway, that was my first experience of projected film. I also learned that her film making technique quite often employs either a fixed single camera or a limited number of cameras, perhaps 2. The view remains the same to the point where it appears to be point the camera and turn it on. I also learned that she appears to become interested in a subject and then make something that is either connected or a focused macro part of the subject, rather than featuring the subject itself. For example Fernsehturm (TV tower), (2001) in Berlin – filming the people in the revolving restaurant or ‘Disappearance at Sea’ (1996), 16mm – a film about the tragedy of the round the world sailing attempt by Donald Crowhurst. Or Mario Merz (2002).
In the documentary Adrian Searle (art critic, The Guardian) comments on the time and pace of Dean’s films and that in this modern world we expect everything to happen quickly, however Dean’s film act in an opposite manner and demand that the viewer slows down to watch the film. Another worthy note on Dean’s film making is in fact a comment made by her in 2003:
“I film with incredibly long takes and I wait. It’s extremely expensive, but I wait for something to happen within the frame because I don’t like zooming and panning. I’ll wait for that bird to fly through the frame.” (2003, p.41).
So I feel the main thing to absorb and take away from Tacita Dean’s film making is the use of time itself as a narrative and comment.
‘Extinction’ by Salome Lamas
Through social media, I came across what looked like an interesting film that was being screen at the ICA in London. The subject matter is well within the scope of my own interests and is the type of project I would embark upon. The film is about the breakaway and unrecognized state of Transnistra. I was already familiar with this state and it would be a place of interest to visit. Here is the official description of the film from Lamas’s website:
‘The end of the cold war did not produce a thaw throughout the continent. A peculiarity of today’s Europe is the variety of “frozen conflicts” it contains. Transnistria is an unrecognized state that broke away from the former Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union in 1990. The film is a casual juxtaposition of the elevated with the banal, with an eerily convincing logic of paradox.’
There are a few short trailers available, so that is all I have been able to watch, however from what I did see it looks interesting. The trailers are in monochrome which makes the Soviet architecture look very dynamic and stunningly beautiful. It also adds tension and drama, perhaps it is in black and white because Transnistra has many shades of grey. So in short, the cinematography looks stunning. However the reality for myself is I don’t have a production budget nor anyone to assist really. So it is a case of making do with the little that I have.
‘Face Cream’ by Monster Chetwynd, Talk and Film screen on Sat 25thAugust, GoMA, Glasgow
As I always say, the great thing about living in Glasgow is that there is always something on that is arts related. Quite often it is a case of targeting events that are of specific interest to your own practice. So for this reason I went along to see a film that has been made by Monster. The first part of the event was a talk about some of the projects and work that she has made over the years and this has involved a lot of performance. It transpires that this is how she became interested in film making, because she was documenting her performances. The film itself was interesting because it blended documentary style footage from one of her ‘Face Cream’ making workshops (one of the participants faces was actually blurred out) with professional acting and green screen CGI scenes. So it seems the process and habit of documenting has worked its way into her film making approach. The film narrative was broadly based around the notion that face cream has magical powers, such as rejuvenation, youth re-gained, rolling back of the years, etc.
There was a whole host of people involved in the project and it was good to see a strong element of social inclusion and outreach working with artists and people in the east end of the city. The scenes were quite varied and interesting, with the some of the people involved having to learn how to fly with the help of a crane and harness! The scenes towards the end and the music choice reminded me of the East German film ‘The Singing Ringing Tree’. There was a budget for the film and this is maybe not common knowledge so I won’t disclose it here.
So this was the last block of research carried out and now it is a case of going on the residency. I’m drawing up a list of sites and places that I would like to visit in Latvia. Also hoping to interview and speak with local people in Aizpute, where SERDE is located. The next update will perhaps be from Latvia.