Rest matters to everyone. Its presence, absence and quality affects mind, body, culture and society. Rest & its discontents explores the dynamics of rest, stress, relaxation, sound, noise, work and mindwandering in an evolving laboratory of moving image, performance, drawing, poetry, data, sound, music and debate.
The short film is the final piece I’ve produced as part of my 2-year residency within the Wellcome Collection’s Hubbub Group.
The film uses material gathered from individuals participating in Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES) to generate short vignettes which explore and re-interpret their inner experiences. DES is a method pioneered by US psychologist Russell Hurlburt which aims to document the nature and quality of an individual’s inner experiences.
Participants are given a beeper that sounds randomly throughout the day and when it does, individuals are asked to make a note of the contents of their experience. Follow up interviews tease out the detail of each experience to produce a short “beep summary”, a short vignette or snapshot of an isolated experience in time.
Experience Composite, uses the the contents of the beep summaries and experiments with framing, looping and over-dubbing to explore the nature of our inner experiences. The film also re-interprets the summaries in playful ways to highlight the unavoidable distortion and artifice introduced when attempting to document or conceptualise our inner experiences.
Here’s my first venture into music videos – made for a friend’s band – Dear Leaders.
It was actually shot last year, but a busy work schedule delayed the edit until the beginning of this year – they released the track as a single in April alongside the video – check it out below!
It was real guerrilla film making, we had no budget, very little plan or script – just a very rough narrative. We shot this across London, near Green Lanes in Haringey and also in Hackney Marshes, with a lot of improvisation at the locations. I also shot this solo, with only two days to get everything done (the band live in separate cities) – which added extra pressure to the production!
The edit was quite challenging as a result, but eventually I picked a route through the footage, not that the narrative makes total sense… but when were music videos ever the bastion of linear narratives?
I was lucky enough to work with actor Julian Spooner (who put up with two days of masking tape being ripped off his face) – who was great to work with, mainly because he was very patient and took my direction without protest. The band members also make small cameos – see if you can spot them!
It was shot mostly on my Sony A7s and it’s low light capabilities allowed opened up a lot of creative possibilities for shooting at dusk on the marshes.
I recently made a short film for the Royal Institution that tells a story of the miners safety lamp, also known as the “Davy Lamp” – invented by Sir Humphry Davy in the 19th Century.
The lamp was designed to allow miners to safely light their way in the mines using candles or oil lamps – which were previously at risk of igniting flammable gases that leaked from the coal baring rocks, often leading to devastating explosions and large loss of life.
Find out more by watching the video!
This is the first time we’ve explored an archive story through the format of Andy’s Tale’s From the Prep Room series and I really like how the historical narrative is combined with the usual demonstration elements of the series – it’s something we’ll think about doing more in the future.
Riffing off the film’s subject matter, I thought I’d experiment with shooting most of the film in candle light in a pitch black environment – which was made possible by the low light capabilities of the Sony A7s, combined with a very fast vintage lens (Takumar 50mm f1.4). I really love the intimate setting that this creates and it also helped to hide the fact that we shot this in a very dull location (the Ri’s windowless basement lab used for school workshops).
Slow motion footage was captured on the Panasonic GH4 at around 100fps – watching the flames billowing out of the gas filled tube is particularly mesmerising!
Continuing with the residency in Margate, here’s the third installment:
Thursday was spent largely working inside, so for this piece I decided to detail some of the rich textures within the house we’ve been staying in. The property is a large 4 story townhouse, which is currently mid-renovation, with exposed wooden floorboards and cracked walls with exposed plaster.
Detailing the tapestry of patterns, colours and uneven surfaces I wanted to pull out the aged aesthetic of the house in the presentation of the film – so I played with aspect ratio to present images in a format closer to 4:3 rather than a modern widescreen format. I also enhanced the square images with 35mm film grain and rounded off the corners to mimic the look of old slides, adding in projector sounds to support this look.
Finally the music loop was recorded in the afternoon on an old electric keyboard found in the living room, which we were experimenting with on a separate audio work. I processed the recording by slowing it down and detuning it, to further enhance the ‘aged’ aesthetic of the film.
Continuing with the residency in Margate, here’s the second short video piece:
I wanted to provide a different perspective on Margate from yesterday’s piece, so as the tide receded I spent time down in the harbour capturing the orange and blue tones of the sunset set amongst the beached boats.
I was drawn to one boat in particular, named Sea Horse, which featured a curious Seahorse shaped ‘S’ on its stern.
It was a beautifully clear evening, so as the sun set, the sky was awash with intense oranges that slowly gave way to deep, inky blues. In terms of grading, I wanted to preserve these colours so I enhanced the contrast and deepened the blacks, but did little else. When shooting these scenes I shot in a flat profile and exposed to the right so that I could pull down the blacks in post and maintain the deep blues of dusk.
Finally, I decided to add in some sound design to play off the mostly static shots. The sounds of lapping waves, gusts of wind and creaking boats are suggestive of motion and act almost like ghostly echoes of movement.
The piece was shot entirely on my Sony A7s, using two old M42 lenses:
I’m currently in Margate on a week long artist residency (PRAH Foundation) producing work that is responsive to the local area.
I’ll be focusing on both video and audio outputs and as part of the project I’ve tasked myself with the grand challenge of producing (and publishing!) something each day…
Here’s Tuesday’s effort:
On my first day, I spent a couple of hours walking around the waterfront with my camera and was particularly drawn to the dull tones of the Arlington House tower block. This drab, monolithic structure looms, rather oppressively, over the recently refurbished Dreamland fun park below (hoping to pay that a visit later in the week).
The colours from this scene influenced the overall grading of the piece, producing a rather muted colour profile throughout. I really liked the contrast of the blue sheds that emerge half way through, with the glimpse of the ferris wheel in the distance – neither of which can quite break free from the muted, sombre tones of their surroundings.
I shot this on my Sony A7s, which I haven’t really had much chance to experiment this year. I also wanted to test out a couple M42 lenses that I’d recently picked up on ebay: