Friday, December 21, 2007

The Face of the Earth


Arteries filling up with sedimentary lust....A little topotopical for the season.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Clouds

The anti-illusionist project engaged but still not married to form. A form that ultimately is that of an essential nothing, either on or in or indeed on top of the screen.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Product Recall!


We are pleased to announce a unique new premier product for that milestone once in a lifetime occasion such as an anniversary, birthday, wedding or as a gift for that someone special. The product is made of an alloy glass and onyx compound that changes shape to fit the wearer and the occasion. One moment it is a ring the next a ceremonial dagger; it is wahtever the wearer desires. View a prototype sample here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sound Projector



The latest issue of the very fine Sound Projectior magazine is out featuring an interview with yours truely about this, that and the other. Not to mention a review of the Storm Bugs LP and lots more!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stanley Green



Excellent scan of protein man Stanley Green's publication over at Another Green World

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.



The post war church posed an interesting problem for architects. On the one hand a commission to build a new church offers a perfect opportunity to create a landmark building; indeed the history of architecture is inextricably linked to the building of places of worship. On the other hand for many the church is a place of tradition and ritual and as such the inclination among a lot of both congregations and clergy was towards commissioning something that was recognisably church like. This paradox led to some dynamics such as the example below. A German post war church, which maintains all the traditional features of tower, bell and clock but is built in a self consciously sparse modern style.

Brought up as a Catholic my own parish church as a child was the English Martyrs in Kent, an interesting design, lacking any steeple and having sweeping sloping roofs but retaining the traditional stained glass window.

For truly dynamic modernist designs one has to look to the Catholic Church in Scotland who commissioned a series of daring original buildings from the architectural firm of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia. Believing that the post war Catholic community north of the border would increase considerably after the war a number of new churches were commissioned as well as a seminary. All feature uncompromising modernist designs. Despite a decline in church attendance many of the buildings are still in use though some have been demolished and the seminary abandoned. An exhibition at the Lighthouse from now until February will display the pioneering work of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Subversion


Last night went to the Horse Hospital for the launch of Duncan Reekie’s new book Subversion –The definitive History of Underground Cinema. Less your usual drinks and canapés book launch this was more of a screening programmed by Duncan with as one might expect contributions by Exploding Cinema stalwarts.

But what of the book itself? Well in these quarters the publication has been much anticipated as an alternative to the recent wave of books by those working inside the artists film & video sector. Whilst not without their merits as Duncan points out the publications by Al Rees and David Curtis do suffer from an "adopted objectivity". When talking of key UK films & videos they often omit to mention that it was they who through stewardship of the awarding committees ensured that these films were made in the first place. Now nobody would fund work which they thought to be of poor quality but subsequently to publish critiques which endorse and celebrate such work is a little like writing your own children’s school reports. Reekie in contrast as something of an outsider brings to bear a different perspective (if not quite objectivity) and this is refreshing.

But is this the definitive history? Well maybe not – Duncan is rather enamoured with the  radicalism of the low or no budget underground cinema. Spending taxpayer’s money does confer upon the recipients a responsibility to spend that money in an accountable and for want of a better phrase a democratic manner; something, which the established film & video sector has always shied away from. It does not necessarily follow however that because one funds one's own productions or organises screenings on a collective basis as the Exploding Cinema has done for a number of years that one can always adopt the higher moral ground. An open screening/access policy and collective decision making meetings do not always ensure the objective they purport to support. Indeed for many years the LFMC had such a policy and this actually did little more than perpetuate the distribution of work by just a handful of filmmakers such as Malcolm Le Grice and Peter Gidal.

The self-conscious radicalism of Duncan's prose can also veer into indignation, especially when talking of the failed Lux project. The demise of the Lux was a tragedy and should not have been allowed to happen but the £4.5 million spent is by Lottery standards rather small beer. Indeed that the Lux was allowed to collapse for such relatively small sums shows the establishment’s lack of commitment to artists film & video at the time. One might recall that the Royal Opera House gets some 27 Million every year for its minority art form from the Arts Council and one wouldn’t even want to start adding up the Lottery millions the Film Council has wasted on trying to kick start the UK film industry. Alongside the lost money one might bemoan the hours of low and no paid work put into the project by staff and board at the LFMC particularly in the ten year run up to the opening of the Lux. When I worked there for about 8 months in 1997 most of the staff were being paid 15 thousand a year and putting in a 50-hour week. The LFMC at the time was getting roughly £46,000 a year from the funders. Compare this with the AHRC award of £148,000 given in the last three years to simply establish a database of key documents and narrative chronologies of artists’ film and video distributors.

Nonetheless despite these caveats Duncan’s book does contain many fresh and distinctive insights and is a very welcome addition to the literature on the sector.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Art of Fly Tipping


Criminally underrated, Fly Tipping displays all that is best in contemporary sculpture. A relaxed an un-premeditated arrangement of forms that rivals early Bruce Mclean or Anthony Caro, Fly Tips are the ultimate in public art. At ease in both rural and urban landscapes these seemingly effortless compositions stand out in any location. Fly Tips have not always met with a warm reception; described as hideous and ugly by some nevertheless a small but committed number of aficionados are beginning to appreciate their latent beauty and seek to have the best works preserved. A short Fly Tip video is here .

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Unnecessary Object of Desire



Standing at the roadside it is hard no to be transfixed by the slow motion collapse of the record industry. This high rise building that once dominated the skyline and mediated the listening habits of all that it surveyed is now sinking in front of us as artists begin to give away their music with newspapers or make it free to download.

In a blog entry almost two years ago I asked “how long will we cling to the wreckage of these outdated forms? “In its death throes the record industry at all levels form tiny companies releasing 500 copies to the majors have tried to counter the transparency and weightlessness of the download by making the physical releases self consciously tangible So rather than a single disk in a plastic jewel case one gets a box set complete with remix disks, limited edition posters, booklets, t-shirts anything and everything to give us some excuse to buy the thing even if we will probably rip or download the music to play digitally anyway. A good mainstream example of this is the recent EMI re-issue of the first Pink Floyd album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. In a 3CD box set one gets the stereo mix, the mono mix, a further disk with obscurities and previously unreleased tracks and mixes and of course - “The album is packaged in a cloth-bound book format, that will include an expanded 12 page redesigned booklet, plus a reproduction of a previously unseen Syd Barrett notebook from 1967 that contains personal artwork and lyric ideas.”

In the small backwater that is experimental and electronic music, vinyl still holds a certain sway. Vinyl’s sheer physicality gives it a head start on the purchase front as it engenders a strong sense of ownership and the large twelve-inch cover provides a good platform for artwork. There is also something highly ritualistic and fetishistic about having to remove the record from its sleeve, wipe it with a cloth, place it on the turntable (and then only twenty minutes later turn the record over) that further emphasizes the physicality of the whole experience.

One of the key micro companies re-issuing electronic and avant-garde music is the German label Vinyl on Demand. Last year indeed a Snatch Tapes compilation and this year a Storm Bugs record came out on the label; both releases on heavy weight vinyl with textured and embossed sleeves. But these releases are quite modest by the label’s usual standards as lavish 5 LP box sets with inserts and accompanying 7 inch singles and T-shirts etc (for subscription members) are more the order of the day.

Such releases are quite wonderful, bringing together previously obscure and unreleased recordings. Vinyl on Demand is single handedly doing much to archive and preserve music that would otherwise be potentially lost or at the very least go unheard. In a world of dwindling resources though it can seem hard to justify this sheer level of physicality when the essential component - the music could be reproduced as a tiny digital file.

Arguably the actual resources and energy needed to make and ship a 5 LP box set are in the scheme of things not that great (particular as unlike the Floyd re-issue most Vinyl on Demand releases are limited to 500 copies); we probably all throw away/recycle more cardboard and plastic from our weekly shop and if one had a choice it would seem to make more sense to use these resources for the reproduction of art rather than a simple packaging for everyday consumables.

That more energy and resources are being wasted elsewhere of course doesn’t detract though from the slight absurdity of both the Floyd cloth bound CD and the vinyl 5 record box set. Perhaps though we should cherish this last lavish and excessive baroque fling of the record industry (an industry almost synonymous with excess). In ten years when resources are just that bit closer to complete exhaustion, when disposing of items becomes as expensive as acquiring then, when the cost of shipping reflects its true environmental impact then the price of box sets will be prohibitive and they will be seen as a wonderful and deliciously wasteful fin de siecle excess.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sound Projector Radio Show - Update


The forthcoming issue of Sound Projector magazine, which will be available later this year, has an interview with yours truly covering all things Snatch Tapes, Storm Bugs and other sound and vision issues. This Friday (the 5th October) there is also a chance to hear my dulcet tones when I join Ed Pinsent on his Sound Projector radio show on Resonance FM. Expect to hear some previously unaired material from the Snatch archives as well as the odd Storm Bugs fave, some new tracks and a selection of fine numbers by non Snatch artists including demonstration records, crackly flexidisks and more. Tune in tomorrow on FM in London or on line anywhere else between 5.30 and 7 PM.

Update - A full tracklisting and podcast of the radio show is now available at the Sound Projector site. Note: scroll to the bottom of the tracklist for the podcast.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hand Held


Today - a new hand held chameleon communication device that responds to touch by synthesising thought processes into co-ordinated colours. See a 30 second demonstration here

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Waterborn


Inspired by watching Sam's patalab ripples late last night I whipped out my digital brsuh and spalashed on some watercolour for a very very quick widescreen sketch of my own. Nods of course to Sam, Maziere's Red Sea and all the other waterborn babies. See the watery grave here

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Product Placement (A Love Story)


We are pleased to announce a unique new premier product for that milestone once in a lifetime occasion such as an anniversary, birthday, wedding or as a one off gift for someone special. The product is made of an alloy glass and onyx compound that changes shape to fit the wearer and the occasion. One moment it is a ring the next a ceremonial dagger; it is wahtever the wearer desires. View a prototype sample here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Supplementary Benefit -Update Video


Out today on Vinyl on Demand. is the latest re-issue of vintage Storm Bugs material. Matured in oak vats for over 25 years these fine recordings have a full body and a sharp prickly aroma reminiscent of carbolic and cinnamon. More precisely side 1 of the LP comprises full length versions of the the first two Storm Bugs singles; namely the 5 track Table Matters EP (1980) and the Metamorphose single (1981).

Whilst tracks from these singles have appeared on compilations before, this is the first time they are being presented in their entirety. This means the first re-issue of the spoof industrial rockabilly track Tin and the vocal version of Make Customer Matter. The tracks have been digitally re-mastered from virgin un-played copies of the two discs.

If side 1 displays Storm Bugs's infamous post punk DIY sound with much use of scratched vinyl, disemboweled radios and home made electronics, side 2 of the LP contained tracks made exclusively with the unique british synthesizer the VCS3. The VCS3 has a matrix pin patch bay in which any module can be connected to any other module, resulting in complex feedback loops and unexpected modulations. The VCS3 tracks which include Hodge, Slip Slap and Hiemal (And She Blew) are all taken from original Snatch Tapes cassette releases. This is the first time most have appeared on vinyl, and of course this means the full heavy weight VOD vinyl we have come to know and love. 

VOD 44 Storm Bugs "Supplementary Benefit" LP
Side 1
Cash Wash: 1.41
Eat Good Beans: 1:59
Make Customers Matter: 2.09
Window Shopping: 2:06
Our Main Objective: 4.44
Car Situations: 3:20
Tin: 2.54
Aboulia 19: 1:06

Side 2
Hodge: 6:41
Slip Slap: 1:36
Hiemal ( And She Blew): 4.51
He Rose Up Again: 3:08
Slow Along the Wire: 1.24
Blackheath Episode: 4.44

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Kisser


In which Marilyn Monroe goes up in smoke.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Immediate Cinema


The term camera is a shortening of the Latin camera obscura (literally dark room), and at its very basic the camera is just that, nothing more than a windowless room with a small pinhole onto the world outside. Light passes through the hole and forms an upside down two-dimensional image on the back wall of the room.

In its simplest state the camera obscura is if you will a form of immediate cinema, an immediate cinema that has dispensed with all the apparatus of complex lenses, shutters, film, projector and so on. There is no script or direction above and beyond the placement of the pinhole; the cinema makes itself, free from edits and other manipulations and human interventions. There is in this immediate cinema a continuity of temporal expression a durational equivalence tempered only by the most momentary of delays, namely the speed of light.

This immediate cinema can only be seen live, in real time, every screening is a one off never to be repeated. All screenings are in full colour with what in the video world would be called full frame full motion. The camera obscura is reflexive about its representative mechanism. That the image is upside down is in itself a declaration of the origins of the light. This then is a pro-illusion device.

If only we could leave it at that. If only we could let the light waves disperse and die of their own accord. Instead the trajectory of camera making has been all about how best to fix the fleeting image on the back wall. Like trying to pin down and classify some elusive wild animal the immediate cinema of the camera obscura is problematised by our desire to in some way capture the image.

The earliest form of capture was simply pencil and paper. Rather than make hand eye estimates of the shape and position of things, by using the camera obscura seemingly highly realistic details could be recorded by artists. Without entering the debates as to whether Caravaggio used the camera obscura on this or that painting it is clear that from the renaissance onwards artists began to use the device as an aid. In a sense photo realist painting was being practiced several hundred years before its invention.

Photography proper merely simplified the process of tracing the fleeting image. Place some suitably light sensitive paper on that back wall and it will map the play of light for as long as the pinhole remains open. If the light sensitive paper is suitable processed and fixed we will have a representation of the fluctuating light during the pinholes opening. These pinhole pictures with their long exposures blur the moving and leave the stationery clearly defined. As records of a given duration and the attendant density of light accumulation they again have a refreshing pro-illusional quality.

Replace the pinhole with a complex lens and faster more responsive emulsion and we begin to enter the nightmare that is modern stills photography; all guile and deception and evacuation of meaning. For now both static and moving objects are arrested; as if a hand was at (literally) lightening speed tracing the outlines. Such images are rich in detail but poor in content.

Animate a series of such photographic stills and we have the makings of a cine camera. Such a camera/projector (all early devices where able to perform both functions) can in a limited way replay the magic of the obscura but introduces a whole new set of problems. Gone is the immediacy, gone is the live transmission and the temporal equivalence, and gone for the much of the 20th century was the colour. No longer happy with the continuity of light itself we begin to tinker with cuts and edits. Compressing and cutting out what is seen as unnecessary and extraneous time.

The camera itself is progressively shrunk and mobilised; no longer stationery it starts to dance and dive, taking close ups, medium shots and all the narrative suggestion that framing involves. As the essential meaning of the immediate cinema of the obscura starts to evaporate we clamour to assign new meanings to the rapidly evaporating medium. The self-proclaimed pro-illusional of the obscura is replaced by anti-illusion of the materialists on the one hand and by the suppressed illusion of Hollywood on the other (not to mention all those stumbling blindly somewhere in between).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Radio Snatch Tapes


In a previous blog entry I recall bemoaning the state of UK radio; in particular how outside of London there is usually nothing more than the 4 BBC channels and a couple of commercial stations. Radio 4’s news and current affairs coverage is good but music-wise Radios 1-3 rarely step too far from the mainstream. Elsewhere in the world in particular in North America there is whole network of college radio stations who play an eclectic mix of material; often everything from country to industrial with interesting factual programmes mixed in. Programmes may be initiated by one station and then played on several others. It is on such a network that lucky late night listeners could hear in the wee small hours of this morning a Snatch Tapes special put together by Rory Hinchey of Collective Voice. The special comprises choice Snatch cuts from the original tapes and re-issues interspliced with extracts from a fairly lengthy interview I did with Rory last week.

The Collective Voice Podcast in downloadable .mp3 format will be posted to http://www.collectivevoice.net on Saturday, May 5, 2007.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Picture Motion - Some Thoughts on Illusion

Update of posting first made in August 2005

Just as with the smoke and mirrors of Pepper’s Ghost or the magician’s routine, early cinema began life as something of a self-professed "trick". This was not a cinema of narratives in the Hollywood sense but of the grande spectacle as Tom Gunning notes (1988) film ”was less a way of telling stories than a way of presenting a series of views to an audience, fascinating because of their illusory power”

Early cinema’s location as part of the sideshow or as traveling attraction gave its illusory qualities an in-built reflexivity. Like all tricks (however good) cinematic illusion required the audience’s complicity. The sleight of hand of the cardsharp who momentarily distracts the audience’s attention whilst he slips the ace of diamonds behind his ear was replaced by movement of claw and shutter dragging the next frame into place. By conjuror’s standards film’s routine was crude and simple, in effect a black curtain was being drawn between frames but the degree of complicity was the same. Particularly at slow film speeds you must want to perceive continuity between frames and create for yourself the illusion of movement. In foregrounding illusion; even celebrating it, early cinema was not so much anti-illusionist as pro-illusionist; an active engagement with the inherent trick of cinema itself.

The degree of complicity required is somewhat at odds with the commonly held view (amongst public and film theorists alike) that the perception of motion in cinema can be attributed to persistence of vision; a physical phenomenon located in the eye. Advocates of persistence maintain that either there is a build up of images on the retina similar to the after trace experienced when looking at a moving bright light (a sparkler for example) or that some form of fusion takes place in the eye.

This defect of the eye long since disproved by psychologists is still regularly offered as an explanation for the moving image experience by film theorists. Indeed so ingrained has the theory of persistence of vision become that it is almost taken for granted. André Bazin (1967:19) for example remarked almost in passing that “the persistence of the image on the retina had been known for a long time.”

An effort to enlighten the film community about scientific developments in understanding "persistence of vision’ was made by Joseph and Barbara Anderson in 1978. Seemingly having little impact on what they describe as the myth of the persistence of vision the couple tried again in 1993 with "The Myth of Persistence of Vision Revisited".

The unwillingness of the film community to take on board the Anderson’s resume of developments in the scientific community may stem from the unwieldy nature of some of the terminology used. Put simply they describe two processes called short-range and long-range apparent motion. The illusion of the perception of motion in film falls within the first category and is not retinal but a function of the whole visual perception processing function of the brain. Short-range apparent motion is then not a passive process in which the eye is involuntarily tricked by film into perceiving motion its is an active perceptual system. In other words we the viewer are actively engaged in making the series of individual frames into a continuity of motion, we make the illusion happen.

Our complicity in engaging with and willingly seeing illusion repositions the viewer as participant rather than simply a dull and unwitting receptor in the cinematic experience. Without an active viewer there is no motion picture just a series of stills.

Complicity implies a level of active participation and in the sense that the viewer creates for himself or herself the picture motion (it is not on the screen) then they are actively engaging in the filmmaking process. But has the viewer the free will to stop seeing the illusion? As with magic tricks where one can train oneself to see the sleight of hand, the possibility that a viewer could learn to see the "reality" of the individual frames is tantalising though untested.

The Anderson’s annoyance (1978) with the film community for continuing to advocate "the myth of the persistence of vision" rests less perhaps on a proclamation of the audience’s complete free will than on a subtle shift of emphasis from the eye to the brain. "The concept of a passive viewer implied by the myth must be replaced by the viewer implied by an enlightened understanding of the illusion: a meaning-seeking creature who engages the film as actively as he engages the real world about him" [and with specific regard to certain strands of film theory] "psychoanalytic-Marxist film scholars have retained the model implied by persistence of vision: theirs is a passive viewer, a spectator who is ‘positioned’, unwittingly ‘sutured’ into the text, and victimised by excess ideology" In effect the Anderson’s are empowering the viewer and making them a far more active part of the process.

The complicity and mutual acceptance of illusion by both filmmaker and audience paradoxically gave early cinema a transparency (a transparency based on what is not seen rather than what is), which in its development as Hollywood narrative medium has gradually been erased. This is not to say that issues of depiction, representation and illusion have not been the subject matter for a range of film theorists from the structural materialism of writers such as Peter Gidal to the feminist film critique of Laura Mulvey not to mention the psychoanalytic film theory of Lacann and Zizek.

Whilst disparate in their approach and conclusions what such theorists have in common is an acceptance of cinema's basic illusion as a sine qua non and the viewer almost as given. When Gidal (1989) for example is a talking about an anti-illusionist cinema he is referring to issues around the illusion of the depicted and the represented whilst seemingly ignoring the illusion of cinema itself which must surely first itself be dissected. Whilst resisting the supposedly implicit bourgeois tendencies of narrative the materialist project seems happy to accept the basic mechanisms of cinema.

This taking for granted or presumption of a basic condition of cinema not only closes off an important avenue of exploration and research but also seems to fall short as model for the interpretation of contemporary developments in moving image practice in particular to what is sometimes referred to as either artist film & video or digital media. In many ways these practices and their screening re-locations outside of the confines of the normal cinema and into the gallery return us to the earliest days of moving image and the side show and in so doing force us to reexamine rather than accept the basic cinematic process.

In this context it may be useful to think in terms of not one but many levels of illusion, all of which invite participation to a greater or lesser extent by the viewer. There is the essential cinematic illusion of movement (or its continuity across frames), then we have an illusion of representation (that what is depicted in some way represents something we may have seen outside the screen) and then an illusion of narrative, of some kind of sequential development, not necessarily linear or story telling in purpose but certainly time based. These different illusions should not necessarily be seen as hierarchical but as all occurring simultaneously and interdependently. In much narrative Hollywood film these illusion are traditionally suppressed (in other words complicity is demanded rather than invited) in pursuit of often straightforward literary and drama based story telling. However in classic anti-illusionist cinema polemics (if not always in the films themselves) the illusion of representation is problematised and the illusion of movement ignored and narrative declined. This approach serves to sever the link to Hollywood but does not result in a true materialist cinema but rather just a stunted one. A cinema in denial rather than one, which declares its pro-illusionist essentiality.

Update of posting first made in August 2005 - first two comments from origianl post

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Bit of a Scrape


Spent the weekend in the role of Professor Ham working alongside professor Cheese in snowbound Copenhagen helping facilitate a workshop with Sam from Patalab on video daydreaming. 

Initially I will admit to being a little cautious about the whole concept of daydreaming videos with their surrealist overtones. However as the workshop progressed it became apparent that the notion of an intuitive daydreaming video practice had much in common with the kind of Youtube work programmed for the recent Screen Dump Cog Collective screening. Work in which the transmission from spectacle to screen is keep as uncluttered as possible by overt intention and editing. 

One could almost describe this as an automatic process in which the emphasis is on, not looking for things to film but filming things to look at. This is a subtle distinction, but the former seems to result in pieces which are composed of a series of juxtapositions of “interesting” details; a composition of fragments influenced by the language of Bauhaus by way of Pierre Schaeffer whereas the latter is more about letting go and letting the everyday action create its own mis en scene. The shooting and framing of the first process was well described by one student at the workshop as making video doodles, which we truncated to the pleasing sounding term of Voodle. The second process could best be described as some kind of digital camera obscura. Anyway here is a small example of this automatic process.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Camera Dances


Went yesterday to the Cog Collective screening of works by John Porter. The pre publicity outlined John’s status as Canada’s king of Super 8. A title John has earned through making Super 8 films for almost 40 years in which time he has made over 300 of the blighters, had over 70 screenings in which he only ever shows original films, not prints and certainly never DVDs.

The first part of the screening consisted of John ironically (and with many apologies) showing a compilation DVD of work by a number of filmmakers from the One Take Super 8 festival in Saskatchewan in Canada. The premise of One Take is that each filmmaker gets a single cartridge of Super 8 and then shoots and does any transpositions and edits in camera before passing the film to the festival organiser unprocessed. The festival then gets the film processed and so the opening night is the first time that the filmmaker gets to see their magnus opus.

The One Take idea has a certain charm and, anyone who has made Super 8 films can recall the childlike excitement of seeing the mustard yellow packets from Kodak landing on the hall mat full of promise. Sadly though there wasn’t much of interest going on in many of these works and there often seemed too much of a revelry in Super 8's inherent filminess but not always much else. 

Then we moved on to John Porter’s own films which were in a wholly different class from the compilation and though John was keen to emphasise in his commentary that this or that shot could only have been done on Super 8 what was inherently interesting about the work had less to do with it having been shot on Super 8 (or 16mm or, even video) and far more to do with the relationship(s) between camera, subject, filmmaker and time. As such though it is probably a categorisation that John would run a mile from his films are very much within the structural materialist tradition. The time lapse used in pieces such as Landscape, Santa Claus Parade and particularly Amusement Park all cleverly undermined the illusion of representation so inherent in mainstream cinema and like the early films of John Smith were also simultaneously poignant and beautiful.

More interesting still though were the following sequence of films in the Camera Dances section where the relationship between (film) maker and movement was choreographed in unpredictable ways. In Down on Me, a camera on a long length of fishing line is lowered by am accomplice down from rooftops and bridges towards the filmmaker standing below. As the camera descends it spins and twirls causing the ground and the image of John waiting below to rotate. However as John begins himself to rotate, matching they movements of the spinning camera so he starts to appear static and centred against a twirling background. It’s a real nice self-effacing anti illusion illusion, simultaneously compelling and transparent. Moreover here we have a film in which rather than the filmmaker’s unseen hand guiding the camera it is the camera turning body that is leading the filmmaker.

Similarly in Cinefuge 4 & 5 where the camera is attached to a long cord and spun round the head of the filmmaker we get a similar illusory paradox depending on whether the filmmaker is himself rotating or not, causing the ground to seemingly turn up and over itself.

The last piece shown called Scanning 5 took the ballet between camera and projector to a different level; it involved the very simple technique of using a small hand held projector to project onto the walls and ceiling of the room; the movement of the projector following the original camera motion. So for example as the camera pans across a park following someone walking, the projector is panned across the wall, a small rectangle framing the figure. This highlighted the selectivity of the frame as cut-out from the wider world of possible vision and after a while began to create the illusion that the surfaces of the screening room where is some way impregnated with image, and it only needed the projector to reveal them.  

I will admit here a certain uncomfortable déjà vu, for buried deep in my notebook is a drawing for an installation(unexecuted) in which the movement of a camera was to be replayed by a rotating projector. My own idea though involved a computer-controlled system whereby the rotation of the original camera and of the projector were to be controlled by some nightmarishly complex servo system that would perfectly synchronise the two movements. Such frame-by-frame accuracy would be needed to stop the installation slipping out of sync but here we had the much more simple technique of the filmmaker simply moving the projector with his arm in memory of the original camera motion. A very effective pas de deux.