Monday, 25 July 2011

Dove, Francis

An entry in the Glossary project

When, on the advice of his soon-to-be collaborator Harley Byrne, the TV director Francis Dove had his wife permanently committed to an amnesiacs’ hospice, it was Dove who was left with the memories. In his attempts to monumentalise them, he chipped, sanded and warped these memories into the clunky, quite explicitly falsified stage sets of his own personal history; watched helplessly as the scenes that he replayed again and again in his mind became smooth-edged mythologies, lore without nuance.

Dove’s work began to take on the same clunky, mechanical nature: in over-defining the respective elements of his screen works, he was being sarcastic about certainty. This approach found an appropriate outlet in his cinematic serialisation of Byrne’s music-hunting memoirs, UNIVERSAL EAR. As with the compression and digital archiving of music, Dove sought to reduce, simplify and vacuum-pack the various physical and sonic aspects that the EAR scripts detailed. Yet these elements, although coldly configured in mutual isolation, were selected for their tactile, flawed, organic nature. It is this disparity between the cleanness of their juxtaposition and the imperfection of their individual states that Dove used to humanise the scientific, to devalue the authority of human logic and to dismiss - or ridicule - any definitive reading of the text.

Dove stated that his simplified caricatures of Byrne’s real-life experiences were the most complete picture that it was ethical to provide, however far that may have wandered from any ideal of naturalism: that the real movie did not occur on the screen, but in the eyes, ears and brains of the audience, where it would crystallize as a new memory before crumbling away into the recesses of the mind.

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