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 – Independent Research

Thinking of this documentary and how we’re going to make it, I’m more interested in fine artists who work in film rather than film makers. Two of the most influential to me are James Richards and John Akomfrah.

Both artists mainly work with archival footage, but in very different ways. Richards uses footage that may not have had any significance before, but then stitches it into his films to build an argument or atmosphere. In his piece, ‘What weakens the Flesh is the Flesh Itself’, there is a section where he films himself going through old photographs. This itself is a form of archival footage. It shows that just because you’re ‘filming’ that doesn’t mean that you’re restricted to film alone.

John Akomfrah uses archival footage a lot as well, and he said something really interesting about why he likes using it at the Artes Mundi conference but I really can’t remember what he said. A lot of his work is multi-screen, in that you may have 3 screens with 3 different films playing at the same time. This was of displaying film changes the way we experience it entirely – it changes our role as the viewer from a passive one to an active one. We have to choose which screen to look at when. The piece is different every time you experience it.

I think these would be interesting avenues to bare in mind when making our film – I think the finished piece should be something more like an installation than a video you can watch on vimeo.


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?

Circle Line – Group Meeting

We met up in our small group to discuss and clarify what our intentions were and what we wanted our outcome to be:

  • Use of light – how does artificial light affect a space? Do we want everything to be naturally lit? How will that affect the way we film?
  • colour – last year’s film was very monochromatic, could we aim for something more vibrant?
  • symbols and text
  • abstraction and distortion of images
  • multi-screen – does the film have to be restricted to one screen?
  • typography – text and language, would this bleed into spoken word as well?
  • archival footage – would only use if it was relevant

Circle Line – Lecture with Owen

  • Documentary aims – after abstracted, creative approaches to a representation of the truth.
  • ‘A creative treatment of actuality’ – John Grierson. Think of documentary as a way of showing the world differently, not just straight-cut documentation of event.
  • ‘crucial tension between voice-over and image’ – how does what we hear affect what we see?
  • The Wonder Ring – Stan Brakhage:
  • Way that the lack of sound can affect visuals
  • Feeling My Way – use of rotascoping, drawing directly onto film.
  • Here There – Alexander Stewart. Audio recorded in a cafe, sketches accompanying. How repetition can be used as a tool, reacting visually to sound and environment.

  • Daniel Crooks  – An Embroidery of Voids. Way of layering images:

After the lecture we had our premier pro induction with Neil, was good to refresh my memory.

Circle Line – Group Workshop 1

We had our first group seminar/workshops today. Some interesting discussions were had, was useful to get an idea what the rest of our group was interested in.

Points discussed were:

  • exploring the dialogue between the see-er and the seen.
  • the curation of footage – the parallels between the curator of an exhibition and the editor of footage.
  • anticipation built from editing.
  • asemic – nonsense things, that which appears to hold sense but has none. E.g scribbles on a page that look like writing.
  • observer interference

Films discussed:

  • Dziga Vertov – Man with a Movie Camera

The music for this version was composed by Michael Nyman for a screening of the film in 2002. Aside from all of the groundbreaking techniques Vertov uses to convey his view of the world, I think it’s a valuable example of a composer working to accompany visuals. It makes me think of how it would work the other way around – what if you create a soundtrack and then have to create visuals to accompany that? How would that affect the way you work?

  • Johnny Greenwood – Bodysong

Again, I focus mainly on the sound with this piece. I think the visuals in isolation don’t have that great an impact – I find them quite boring. The soundtrack gifts meaning to them, altering our perception and the context we see through. An example of how important sound is to creating atmosphere.

  • steven woloshen – 1000 Plateaus

<p><a href=”″>1000 Plateaus (2004 – 2014)</a> from <a href=”″>steven Woloshen</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Woloshen uses more physical methods of recording footage. The images seen are creating from a roll of film, a light box, and some pens on left on the passengers seat of a car whilst he drives around. This is like a kinetic record of a journey – it shows a documentary doesn’t have to be literal.

  • feeling my way – jonathan hodgeson

<p><a href=”″>Feeling My Way</a> from <a href=””>Jonathan Hodgson</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I really love this film. The way visuals have been altered by animation techniques, and the way sound has been added really transforms the way we see and creates an unusual yet captivating narrative.

  • Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren – Begone Dull Care

This film was created by Lambart and McLaren painting directly onto film to accompany jazz music played by the Oscar Peterson Trio. The opposite of the Man with the Movie Camera, this is visuals created for sound. It’s a very different experience to sound made for visuals. I feel there are less boundaries – there has been more freedom in the making of it.

  • john smith – blight

I love the way sound is used in blight as well. Repeated speech, ‘kill the spiders’, combined with images of building that look like they could crumble at any second amounts to unbearable tension. It’s like a huge dissonance that desperately needs to be resolved. When speech is repeated to that extent it loses meaning as well. Words are stripped back to the bare sounds, becoming nonsense.