Circle Line – Reflective Blog

1. Your research and experimentation

Over the course of this project the ways in which I research haven’t changed much, but the type of research I’ve been doing has certainly expanded. I really didn’t have any knowledge of documentary, and a very limited one of film, before the project began. Obviously it’s a huge field and I’ve only just dipped my toe in it, but I will definitely continue to research into it myself. I think the research we were given in the reader and the bibliography was really useful – the format of having all of those little selections of text really worked for me, and I will continue to refer back to both in the future.

I think of my influences and research as a mental library. Everything goes in there, even if it isn’t relevant at the time. Then over time things begin to relate and come in handy. I feel like over circle line I’ve gotten to use some my already well worn research, as well as adding a new shelf of all I have gathered on the project.

I don’t usually work visually, and rarely to a brief – I don’t know what form the work will take when I begin. So to know we were going to make a minute long film from the outset definitely restricted me and forced me to think differently. I really enjoyed it though, and I applied ideas and themes I’m already interested in to the way I worked. I knew from the outset that I would prefer the abstraction to be first hand – the visuals would be more authentic and we would have less control over them if we distorted them in the recording process rather than in an editing suite. This lead to me using the camera in a way I wouldn’t usually: filming through barriers on site, tracking objects with the camera, capturing textures rather than ‘things’.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to work on location, something I rarely do but will definitely explore more now. To summarise, I shall be returning to my practice far more informed that when I began field.

2. Your engagement

I think the format of the circle line reader and bibliography was really useful, and I shall refer back to them in the future as well. I don’t think I engaged with them enough or applied them enough to what I was doing though, and that is a fault in my own organisation. I think I definitely applied myself to the trip to Pontypridd though – I had a great time and have learnt that going out into the world to get material or just inspiration is hugely valuable to the way I work. I think I’ve engaged very well with the project as a whole, especially in continuing it’s life after field ends. I’m very keen to be involved in the ‘Dear Esther’ project and give the work as much presence as I can. I’m also really excited to work on a larger scale with professionals – it’s a fantastic opportunity to create something great.

In terms of working collaboratively, it’s been a struggle. I definitely think I’ve put a lot more into the film than others, and without my input we wouldn’t have anything to show. Because of this it became something of a burden, which is partially why I’m looking forward to the installation so much – it’s a welcome break. I’ve learnt a lot about how I work in groups as well – I took on a leadership role, and I realised that despite not wanting to or thinking I’m much of a leader, I do always seem to take charge. I do need to learn to trust others more and be less involved in every aspect. My biggest shortcoming is organisation though. I have had a lot on this term, so I forgive myself for being all over the place. I don’t want future projects to be jeopardised or not reach their full potential by my lack of organisation though, so I know now to definitely work and improve upon that.

3. Your learning development: key concepts
We sort of established some ideas to take with us into the project, but nothing too concrete. We knew that abstraction was important – we didn’t want the visuals to be literal or figurative. Colour was also important from the onset. The previous year’s film was largely monochromatic, so we knew early on that we wanted to show a different side of Pontypridd. We did have the guideline of text – I’ve been interested in found text in my own practice, so I continued with this when capturing footage for the film, and then created it as a guideline when editing. We did have a strict ban on filming on the train however – it has very much the same vibe as footage of feet walking.

My understanding of abstraction has evolved somewhat over the project. It annoys me every time someone said ‘we want to film abstract stuff’, because for me ‘abstract’ and ‘abstraction’ are very different things. ‘Abstract’ to me is overused. It is a lazy way of describing anything that isn’t plainly literal. I prefer the term ‘abstraction’ to use as a way of describing the distortion of footage, etc. It’s interesting thinking of the word in relation to documentary. Before this project I thought of documentary as very literal. Now my understanding is far broader, and I know it’s more of a way of showing a perspective rather than Louis Theroux interviewing people (not that I have anything against Louis Theroux).

I’ve learnt a lot about transdisciplinarity as well, especially in collaboration. From my own perspective I work in a transdisciplinary field – I’m a fine artist with a background and strong influences in music. In terms of the project, I learnt a lot about the various strengths and weaknesses of the different courses. I think in some respect collaborating with very different thinkers was very challenging – when not everyone is on the same page it’s very difficult to get your ideas understood. But on the other hand, I learnt things from other course members that have been very useful.

4. Your interests and direction

The themes I’m interested in within my own practice were distinctly present in our film due to my leadership. I’m currently looking at and working with text within my own practice, and this continued into our film. My research within constellation into the multi-sensory and tactility was also used, especially in the latter part of the film with the glass and hands.

This term of field has helped me to see Fine Art’s strengths. Last year I left field feeling disheartened – I felt that as a Fine Artist I lacked practical skills and wasn’t sure what made Fine Art a worthwhile course, not to me but when justifying it to others. This project has helped me to realise it’s strengths – we learn a way of working, thinking, and criticising which is both unique and applicable to many roles and areas.

5. Moving ahead

Constellation, field, and subject have all been interlinked and moving forward at the same time for me, so I’m going to continue as I am and take what I’ve learnt back into my own practice. The project will continue alongside though – sorting out the Dear Esther event installation should hopefully be a really valuable opportunity to work professionally and make an installation!

What has been the value to you of this project?
ART AND DESIGN: 1) Art and Design are not as greatly opposed as I thought, each one requires input from the other, 2) Fine Art is, to me, a lens through which to interpret the world, and 3) if you’re interested in something, you’ll see it everywhere.

COLLABORATION: 1) I always seem to take on a leadership role in collaboration, and this is fine but i need to be less dominating maybe, 2) if people aren’t very engaged then give them small tasks that are manageable, and 3) working with people outside of your field can be wonderfully refreshing – Chris, Royal Welsh students, etc.


Circle Line – Creating the Soundtrack

We ended up in the situation of not having a finished soundtrack, so I created one specifically for our completed film instead.

I think it definitely helped that I could edit the soundtrack to the finished film – it enabled me to be more specific in what I did and work with what I was seeing, not against it. I specifically referenced the text in certain bits: where the text saying ‘organs’ came on the screen I included the recordings I had of organ pipes. The same for the violin text as well. The main basis of the soundtrack is an edited recording of the train on the way to the chapel.

The piece isn’t ‘music’ as such, but that wasn’t my intention. It functions as a solo piece, but succeeds in enhancing the tension in the film.

Circle Line – Film with the Sound

We got to see our work with the soundtracks, and it certainly changed the way we had been thinking about the film. The visuals are completely transformed when different sounds are paired with it. Our soundtrack wasn’t quite what we were hoping for – maybe due to communication difficulties etc. If we don’t get another version then I could create a new version myself.

I think what we need to do to finish the film is to continue with the cutting/editing we’ve been doing to build tension, and also think about how we want to incorporate the text. Could it be something like in ‘Feeling My Way’ where text is overlayed and animated? We could use Thai’s drawings as another form of primary footage perhaps.

Circle Line – First Edit

Our first edit is a good start I think – the main things we did were:

  • Overlaying different footage on top of eachother with different colour overlays. So one clip is orange tinted, the other blue – creating a contrast.
  • Using the text footage and slow moving tracking shots together.
  • Overlaying the footage of me handling the dominoes with footage of broken glass – this created an uneasy tension between the tactile movement of the hands and the dangerous glass.

To take this further, we’re going to try and create more of a pace – all our footage at the moment is slow tracking shots. We need to edit it so that it created some sort of movement and excitement.

Circle Line – First Look at Footage

Going through our footage, these clips stood out the most for me. They’re all videos that have been distorted some way in the filming process, or they’re somewhat ambiguous as to what they could be. The one I filmed where I followed the round archway text stands out in particular – I was intentionally trying to capture the text from the archway, but it’s all of the incidental text captured that’s really interesting.

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I’ve always been interested in collections of things: old photographs from antique shops, slide films, train tickets, etc. I like collecting bits like that because I think they hold a lot of potential, both as objects in themselves and as materials to create something new with. Recently though I’ve been collecting text – every time I’m out somewhere and I see some writing that intrigues me, I’ve taken a photo. Text isn’t something you can pick up and put in your pocket – it’s a concept. I think collecting things that aren’t really things (like text) can generate a lot of interesting outcomes.

So for instance, the archway clip (above) is full of odd bits of text. I wouldn’t necessarily notice them usually, but the context of them as background information in this video gives them a new significance to me. I don’t know if we’ll use these particular bits or even this clip in our film, but I definitely will work with this more in my own practice. I think the idea of using and exploring text as symbols, or turning them into something asemic is definitely worth exploring however.

Circle Line – PontyPridd Trip

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The Pontypridd trip went really well – got a lot of footage and sound recordings to work with. Our first stop was the museum, and we got to handle some artifacts – we got some footage and sound recordings of old dominoes and tins etc. We also joined forces with a composer – our group has Ali, who worked on the film last year as well. We discussed a bit the possibility of creating an installation for the film. Our group then went onto the chapel.

I myself was conscious of capturing any text or numbers around the place, so I personally sought out a lot of that. We tried to capture a lot of footage that was abstracted in the filming process – Jacob and I got an interesting clip of him filming my phone screen filming something, as the reflections on my phone screen distorted the image.

In the chapel there was a lot of old texty bits and bobs, as well as discarded light bulbs and organ pipes – I got some recordings of the pipes being played by us, they should come in handy as well.

We’ll go over all of our footage before the meeting next week and see what is worth using and where we want to take the film.

Circle Line – Group Workshop 2

In the second group workshop, we set out to solidify our aims and intentions. A useful exercise was for us all to pick out an artwork on a postcard, and then justify our choice – why that one? What about that piece draws us to it? This revealed what we’re interested in – I was drawn to a series of Jars (shows my interests in collections and curation), and a celestial map (showing my interest in maps and mythology).

We also discussed how the manifesto is a proposal to the composers – it needs to be clear so that they can create something cohesive.

  • What we stage vs what is natural – how much control do we want to have over our footage.
  • movement – what already moves?
  • whose eyes are seeing things? Perspective of camera.
  • drawings overlaid onto moving image?
  • are our recordings restricted only to video? Or are sketches and photos etc valid as well?