A selection of short essay based films made as part of practice based research. All films are under CC BY-ND 4.0 license unless otherwise stated.
Narrating Ruins in Time
Film 1 of a series of research films for a large three year project currently seeking funding.
Research film 1 (3.11 minutes) (2018)
This film focuses on Rome; however, the project will look at Chernobyl, Centralia, Hiroshima, Fukushima, and other places of ruination. Shot on Canon 600D and edited on Gimp and iMovie Maker. I was not able to take a tripod into the sites, so the film footage is not steady. While the shuddering was not intentional, I like to think the vibrating footage may say something about the unstable nature of time in this project as ruins reflect past, present, and future ruination (what we might call, 'tremors of time'... but, as I say, this was not intentional!). I also had a private guide around some of these sites - thanks Jason.
These films are walking exploration films in which I take continuous footage as I wander through sites. While these films are all about ruination, they are separate from the Narrating Ruins in Time project (long title: Narrating Ruins in Time and Space: Sites, Testimony, and Apocalyptic Imaginings).
Buried (4.32 minutes) (2017)
Shot on an iPhone 6 in portrait mode to give the film limited perspective, the footage is intentionally restrained. Colour matte and enhancement were added in Premier Pro in order to dial down the vibrancy of colour on the original footage. Twenty minutes were shot at the site and this footage was edited down to five minutes. Clips were added randomly to create a disjoined and abstract affect without a central narrative. Ambient sound and authentic war sounds were sourced from the public domain.
Sound is the focus of this piece as the intent is to convey a layering of time. ‘Buried’ responds to one of my major research projects on ruination. A paper I am working on called ‘Private Access’, examines ‘lost’ monuments which have not been converted into tourist spaces and are often ‘hidden’ amongst new builds or blanketed by nature. My paper questions the psychological impact living with ‘raw’ ruins (not preserved or part of a tourist site) and how the ruin can act as a mnemonic aid to retaining lessons from history specially involving destruction and threats to the human. Moreover, my work on ruins addresses how ruins can prompt visitors/witnesses to contemplate loss – both the loss of those who would have inhabited that space and the future loss of their own selves through the inevitable repetition of ruination and rejuvenation. The decay of familiar structures (in this case a military structure but also houses, vehicles, public sites etc) means we are surrounded everyday by loss and deterioration; recognising that we look upon the dereliction of our own human toil and work brings us closer, perhaps, to imaging our own end – both in terms of life span but also the potential destruction of the human race. Ruins help us imagine what apocalypse may look like. The smothering of some ruins by nature, as in the case with the military site in ‘Buried’, further compounds the understanding that human experience is brief and temporary. While ruins do engage in the mnemonic process and remind us of historic events (here, war), when some sites are left to completely deteriorate and are lost from history books they can become abstract. In ‘Buried’ despite the lack of intervention by preservation groups, the conflicts of the twentieth centuries are familiar enough to inspire appropriate soundscape. This ruin can engage in the mnemonic process and does interact with time on numerous levels; however, some sites either completely buried or unrecognisable are, for the most part, silent.
Hospital 1900/2015 (5.17 minutes) (2015)
After filming for over an hour, the footage was edited down to 5 minutes. Filmed on an old camera in 2015, the footage has been treated with HDR and grain to give the piece a distorted and rough edge. Clips have been arranged in order of the exploration and no attempt was made along the journey to focus the camera or engineer shots; the intent of the piece was to offer a first-person perspective of walking through the abandoned hospital. Sound, from the public domain, has been added. The majority of sound clips are electrical based with the addition of static and music for atmosphere. The inspiration behind the metallic ambient sound came from the endurance of metal (springs, frames, joists) that, once hidden, now protrude. The sound of a beating heart is actually the beating heart of nonhuman animal, and represents the endurance of the site as a living entity.
Like ‘Buried’ (above), this film also corresponds to my research on ruination and decay.
Abandoned Children's Hospital (1.49 minutes) (filmed 2011, reworked 2018)
This short film was filmed on a low-quality camera (often in very dark settings) and edited on Window's Movie Maker. This hospital had one of the last remaining padded cells before the site's demolition. In total, 30 minutes of footage was collected.
Music: Colorless Aura by Kevin MacLeod
Potter's Mansion (6.45 minutes) (filmed 2011, reworked 2018)
This short film was filmed on a low-quality camera and edited on Window's Movie Maker. Nothing was staged in the making of this film; the objects, layout, and graffiti etc. were encountered and filmed without any tampering. The mansion, known as Potter's, has been demolished and the site now features a new luxury build. I do not know what became of the contents, some of which was dated to the 1930s. I do not know why the house was abandoned in this way. In total, 40 minutes of footage was collected.
Music: Cryptic Sorrow - Atlantean Twilight by Kevin MacLeod