Monday, 21 November 2016

Epizoda ? in Belgrade

Our Bosnian cop flick honours its third festival selection, at the Auteur Film Festival in Belgrade (Serbia), with a screening next week.

EVENT: Epizoda ? at 22nd Auteur Film Festival
PROGRAM: Brave Balkans
WHERE: Jugoslovenskak Kinoteka (Velika sala), Uzun Mirkova 1, Belgrade, Serbia
WHEN: Thursday, 1st December 2016, 21.00

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Recontres Bandits-Mages Program Notes

On Monday, our absurdist cop flick Epizoda ? had its international premiere at Recontres Bandits-Mage. The event's director Isabel Carlier asked me to select some films to play alongside our own, within the themes of this year's encounter. These are the program notes I composed for the event, including some thoughts on my 2017 residency at Bandits-Mages:

The three movies that form the program may not at first glance have much to do with each other. A meta-documentary on love and identity, a post-Tsukamoto monster romance, and a broken-down detective show. But each presents a vision of instability from their surface scaffolding, through their foundations, deep into whatever’s below. In each movie, the potential for transformation is hinted at, but it’s a transformation that is inseparable from destruction. The movies are maintained as much by the volatile portals that open up in the fissures as by the physical substance that weighs them down.

Kaori Oda’s Twitter biography used to read, “Am a camera”. Now it says, “filmmaker / log”. Her identification as a media cyborg does not preclude a profound and troubled humanhood. She watches and she records, but very quietly she also talks. ‘Thus a Noise Speaks’ is ostensibly about gender, sexual and family identity but the video’s mechanical exoskeleton is tangled in these vines. This is the digital human hybrid as a breathing video archive.

Ghazi Alqudcy has a morbid interest in the everyday and a healthy interest in the morbid. In ‘My Parents Are Animals’ we witness degradation, humiliation, excreta and noodles. A park, a kitchen, a doctor’s office become the showgrounds for subversion of the established social, physical and biological rules: yet love, as we know, remains a survival game requiring adaptation, submission, cruelty and affection.

Somehow the free-associating doctor of ‘My Parents’ is a cousin of Detective Inspector Colin Giffard, the English-named Bosnian detective of my own ‘Epizoda ?’. Giffard’s tragedy is that he is the privileged and inevitable outcome of a system to whose underlying code he has been refused access. As with ‘Thus A Noise Speaks’, the generic form and the wet content make for a pensive chimera; however, Kaori’s video nurtures an unpredictable potential for growth, while in ‘Epizoda ?’ we find only rot. Yet, both are processes that require the progress of time. When making ‘Epizoda ?’, I never asked myself if Giffard is searching for salvation: I only knew that this media dinosaur wanted to make it safely to the end.


When we virtualize our culture it becomes vulnerable to evaporating on a hot day or blowing away in the wind. Decay is history evolving. A stone monument remains alive even if blown apart. Its negative imprint stands sturdy in the memory dust. What do we mean when we talk about protecting our “way of life”? Can it be described as an endless reel of gestures and actions (with periods of snoozing)? Could we reduce it to a choreographic score, save it in scrolls and reanimate it? How different would the playback look if it was scored by Edvard Munch or Charles M. Schulz?

UNIVERSAL EAR is a lost adventure serial of the future, charting heroic ex-postman Harley Byrne’s ongoing mission: to capture and make available for download “all the world’s music, ever.”

Each episode sees Byrne travel to another time and place, where his efforts to find and record humanity’s rarest musics are hindered by his arch-enemy, Being, mysterious mistress of disguise.

It has become my own personal mission to (p)reconstruct these as yet unmade pocket adventures, one by one into infinity.

Inspired by recent developments in ‘virtual heritage’ – hologram Buddhas, hologram dead pop stars, 3D printed replicas of the still-smoking remains of Syrian monuments – I shall follow Harley Byrne to a future Bourges we don’t yet know: a future in which the concrete present overlaps with 3D, hologramatic and augmented reality meta-levels in a manner that is not so much ‘mixed-reality’ as ‘mixed-authenticity’.

What will the great-great-granddaughters of today’s heritage ministers consider important enough to preserve in ever-looping projections, town square battles and beheadings that recur in full digital fidelity each day with sharper regularity than the lighting of the street lamps? Which personal accomplishments and disasters will solipsistic curators make virtual space for in the alleys and byways of a city frozen in the past by the technologies of the future? What hymns to sing in the graveyards we’ll build for our virtual PA’s? What bitcrushed cries will echo through these temporal interstices with musical regularity?

Epizoda ?

My Parents Are Animals

Thus A Noise Speaks

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Epizoda ? in Barcelona

Our absurdist detective flick Epizoda ? will continue its festival run with two screenings at one of the Institute's favourite festivals, L'Alternativa in Barcelona (Spain).

EVENT: Epizoda ? at L'Alternativa, 23rd Barcelona Independent Film Festival
PROGRAM: Shorts 3
WHERE: Auditorium, CCCB, Carrer de Montalegre, 5, 08001 Barcelona
WHEN: Thursday, 17th November 2016, 19.15; Sunday, 20th November 2016, 16.45
COST: Enquire at venue.
NOTES: Mr Cole, the movie's director, will be present for the first screening.

Vladimir Kajević as
Detectiv Inspektor Colin Giffard

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Epizoda ? in Bourges

Epizoda ?, the new mid-length movie directed by the Institute's Graeme Cole, will have its world premiere at Rencontres Bandits-Mages 2016, in Bourges, France on November 7th.

Further, upon selection Mr Cole was invited to complete a 'carte blanche' of complementary movies, and thus the program will also feature films by the great Kaori Oda (Thus A Noise Speaks) and Ghazi Alqudcy (My Parents Are Animals). The event also prefigures an artistic residency as part of the EMARE program to take place in early 2017.

Epizoda ? is the first film to be completed by Mr Cole under the mentorship of Béla Tarr at the latter's film.factory in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an absurdist detective movie following the disintegration of a fictional murder cop to whom the basic procedures of crime investigation remain, themselves, a mystery.

EVENT: Epizoda ? at Rencontres Bandits-Mages 2016
PROGRAM: Soirée Carte Blanche À Graeme Cole
WHERE: UCL Cinéma MCB°, Boulevard Georges Clemenceau, 18000 Bourges
WHEN: Monday, 7th November 2016, 21.00
COST: Enquire at venue.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Sarajevo-Split Log 3

Twas a dark and stormy night that played host to the first ever public screening of the Unfound Peoples Videotechnic, and the official closing of my residency in Split and Sarajevo (although there are screenings and meetings to attend to in the next few days before I leave). To see the work of the graduating students played out with structural rigour - one after the other with nary a mixtape artist's gesture to mutual complementarity - was to see four cine-voices of distinctiveness chant in startling, dissonant unison. Each filmmaker showed three one minute films, followed by video-manifestos of varying length, and we finished (still damp, only thirty minutes after coming in from the rain) with the rough cut of my own Split 'contemplation'. This is not the place nor the time for a full report on the residency, but those who've followed via this log, Twitter, meetings and presentations, and unprompted confessions on public transport, will know that I've been startled, confused, crushed and re-inflated by the variety of film, video, text and humanity that my research and response to the Kino Klub phenomenon and associated themes has provoked. As such, I find no better way to conclude my log than to publish the full screenplay of my final residency work. Hvala, and laku noc.

Exterior, stone town - Day

A lone figure, dressed somehow futuristically, wanders the abandoned arcade. The city howls with emptiness. Our hero shivers, although the morning is warm. She takes a communication device from her pocket, pokes at it with her thin, foreign fingers until the WiFi receiver flickers into life. There is just one, faint network available. It is named, in English “Abandon All Hope”. Arching her eyebrow, our hero stabs five electronic letters into the Password field. 


Dante. Password incorrect. Thinking again, our hero enters: 


Dialling up an old map application, she positions herself within parallel landscapes, one virtual, one made of the afore-mentioned stone. But the walls and passageways seem misaligned.

She tries a different application. Rather than satellites, it uses the vibrations of the street ambience to create an acoustic fingerprint that can be compared with those kept on a remote database, in a run-down renderfarm, in a forgotten bunker, on a different frequency. According to the application she is in Mirny, Siberia, 500 metres in the ground. But she knows this cannot be in Mirny, Siberia; she took the bus for the city of seven winds. 

She takes a WiFi meter from her pocket and holds it to the air. It is difficult to get a reading, but when the figures emerge, the situation is as she feared. The WiFi in this town is rotten.

Switching back to the map application, she accepts the faulty GPS for what it is. The real and virtual paths match up like misaligned ghosts on an old VHS tape. Perhaps like the offline movie she has searched so long for: the type her electronic eye implants, whose license period has long expired, can watch with impunity. Surely it is here, in the Paradise Video Rental store, as she was promised by the old man on the boat.

A breeze whispers through her soul, and she cannot identify whether it came from outside or within.

Exterior, town - Lost

The streets and monuments now palpably offset from the map, she roams skewed echoes of the routes described by what she now senses to be the deliberately warped cartography of the town.

As in a funhouse, which this is not, she feels herself manipulated by undulating surfaces and tricked perspectives, into taking a new path. But she locates herself yet; WiFi currents, like familiar breezes, define our understanding of a city – if, unlike the winds, they also define the city’s understanding of us. The index becomes the memory, she develops a sense for her position, but still…  

Exterior, day – Paradise Video Rental

Or is it? The letters are five metres wide on the map, but out here there is no sign, no buzzer. Just a door that seems to morph into a giant question mark. And our hero’s answer is, what the heck. She has collected too much dust in her shoes to give up now. This is where the corrupted GPS has directed her. Perhaps, someone even wanted to guide her here.

Forcing the door, she steps into the badly-mapped darkness.

Interior, mystery building - Day

It smells of mould and dust and disparate spores dragged by the wind from seven directions, deposited here and shut in who-knows-how-many years before.

Her heart begins to race, for her highly developed nostrils also pick up something that smells like videotape. Could it be her over-active olfactory imagination, whose development was inverse to the decline of her original eyes?

Interior, corridor - Day


Interior, office - Day

Watched by nobody, she stalks the abandoned building.

Interior, locker room - Day 

Maybe there was a moment, long before her time, when each video rental store would have one thousand employees. Perhaps this was such a megastore, staffed with low-paid workers from the underdeveloped hinterland, trained to process the exchange of videocassettes, little suspecting that cables with code were snaking their way into society, ready to puncture the throat of the offline viewing experience with the blunt plastic fang of the LAN plug. Possibly this is the fantasy of a jaded cyborg VJ whose eye implants have long outlived their license agreement.

She opens a locker by impulse, the locker with the Nick Nolte sticker. Treasure! A batch of videocassettes in unmarked sleeves, no rental collection but something else.

She checks the other cabinets for the appropriate machinery, but they are empty.

Interior, laboratory - Desperate

She stumbles upon racks of test air, abandoned miniature thermals. From amidst rows of the desperate scientist’s long-deserted and now highly-valuable booze stash she grabs a vintage tin of energy drink.

Interior, junk room - Soon after

She finds the appropriate machinery.

Interior, locker room - Again

The sound of the machine taking the tape is like a thirsty dog lapping at water.

The first tape is meaningless, but the colours feel good on her eyes. The footage is teasingly short, a throwaway snippet of a council worker in a crane who appears to have been dispatched to rescue a pair of shoes from the high branches of a tree.

The shot is abandoned by its anonymous creator before the action is played out. We can say that it is completely random, most likely never uploaded. To see real live recorded people in a space that she knows to have been vacated, a place she has seen with her own eyes, seen it unpeopled, chills her bones. What is this city, whose only moving parts are the reel hubs in the cassettes she herself has disturbed?

She plays back the short clip again and again, perhaps looking for a pattern, although perhaps she does not know this. Well, one random film by itself can be non-narrative, but as soon as you add another, a narrative is suggested.

The images on the second tape appear to be a curated selection of corrections, each shot framing a focus or aperture adjustment, these fixes arranged rhythmically, the naked sound of the camera’s moving parts whispering candidly of the anonymous author, we will call him Bogdan Sumnja, obsessively, neurotically searching for an ideal setting, a focal length to believe in. A masterpiece in structural ASMR, or the offcuts of the driest holiday video, both or neither, the author – if so arch a term can be assigned such an insecure cinematographer – a dabbler maybe, an amateur in the Latin sense: from the Latin, amore, amator, to love, lover… but a grim kind of love, a determined enthusiasm, hobby as destiny.

Glimpses of the city’s natural zone, the national park, assert themselves, almost embarrassed to be there, the accidental testimony of a space that just was.

Now and then, images of a woman: her identity unknown, unimportant, even as her agency, authority permeates the image, pushing the water and the insects and the leaves down the hierarchy, demanding respect.

And all the time those sounds, too real, too intimate, their presence an agonizing tension between the unintentional and the deliberate. This is the city as a negotiation that cannot be won, a dance with invisible currents, the citizen as slave to entropy, it is video waste matter, a smear of pixels, a stinking byproduct of one doubtist’s near insane contemplation. Vernacular surveillance of a malevolent stillness, the incriminated cityscape frozen in the headlights, dust and butterflies animating the complacent air between buildings.

She is becoming convinced that these videos are the work of a local chapter of the international Random Visual Recordings Club, an unintentionally mysterious cabal of video listeners obsessively gleaning the pixels of found tapes and stolen camera-phones, vernacular realism as Rorschach test, amateur media theorists, outsider psychologists whose day-jobs as architects, engineers or surgeons cultivated vulnerable new understandings of a visual form of whose canonical works they probably had very little understanding at all. They strained against randomness, their semi-abstractions seeming to ask: what is a recording? What is a scene? What is a video, a movie? What should go in? without every approaching a convincing answer, wanting not to be convinced, yet pompous enough to never doubt the importance of visual recordings.

And here is the third tape. Random yet; she begins to trace overlapping materials between the purportedly discrete recordings.

The director of the third tape, a paint technician, we will call her Zorka Glupost, features prominently: she can be recognised from the previous recording, Bogdan’s assemblage of focus changes and zooms, which we can assume are out-takes from another of Zorka’s visual recordings. This is how they worked together, Zorka directing Bogdan’s camera to capture random raw recordings for her to work with, Bogdan using the offcuts to make his own experiments, to declare his own marginality. Between Bogdan and Zorka grew a mythology of the mundane, a private universe of moments and microclimates whose index radically scrambled its referents.

And here, on this tape now, Zorka Glupost disappears into the city through a series of audaciously tasteless video effects, the meticulously documented weather systems in and around their shared apartment crushed, prettied, or – the visitor cannot be sure – perhaps they are legitimate electronic interpretations of the psycho-meteorology of the place. Where are Glupost and Sumnja now, where are their children or their children’s children or the descendants of their friends and enemies? What happened in this city that only the weather remains?

Interior, locker room - Half-daft

The fourth tape. Another anonymous authoress, another paid up subscriber to the Random Visual Recordings Club. The wind traced through clip after clip of the disturbance it leaves in its path. And which of the city’s seven winds?

The recording has a structure, but an idiot’s structure. Only an idiot would film the wind. Take your child to the zoo – you will get your screenplay. This recording has the innocence of a baby photo.

She fidgets on her pop crate, the temperature has shrunk since the wind video started playing. What does she know about the seven winds? The north wind, the 205, brings a chill, but it clears the air; the skies turn blue, rivalries and arguments cool in proportion to the strength of that particular occurrence. The south wind, the 508, an infinite, looping, miserable wind. Countless fine minds have been lost to the 508. The 102 is the wind of waiting and of solutions. It would not have been uncommon to see, on such days, the people of the city standing on corners, sitting on the church steps or riding the orbital bus around and around until the wind should pass and long-sought understandings be reached. It was said to be highly unlucky to remove a pot from the boil on a day that the 102 was blowing. The twin winds, the 300 and the 303, a wind within a wind; these are disorienting winds, contradictory winds, winds that bind, winds that betray, winds in which not to utter a secret. The 208 is the returning wind; a wind that never drops its scent. A wind full of nostalgia and regret, constructed from Proustian gusts. A house burned to the ground in the 208 would shimmer, ghostlike, when the wind returned months later, shimmer on the nasal frequencies of those who smelled the smell the first time round. But the seventh wind, the 404. Nobody talks of the 404. What was this wind? A malevolent wind, a wind that consumes? Is this the wind the random videographers were testifying to, warning of, even? Leaving shoes, unpeopled, hanging from the branches; was it the 404 that Bogdan Sumnja was struggling to expose, rather than landscapes, insects or people?; Zorka Glupost’s study, diary of swirling atmospheres around her nest; and now this idiot’s movie, anonymous, obsessive, a hunter of malicious breezes?

These recordings are neither art nor science; like the former, they are a puzzle with fuzzy edges, implying connections yet impossible to click together; so fuzzy are those edges, you could slip between them and disappear. If these films are a code, a science report, who were they intended for? For Her? History is solipsistic; it makes an Other of those outside one’s specific timeframe. But culture is a waterfall, a flame: it is the shape of the temporary. Was it the wind that took them, the 404, were these their screams, futile, lost in the wind?

Her attention is drawn back to the electronic map; its deliberately warped dimensions disguising the true lie of the city to her, yet guiding her to this unexpected trove of irrational recordings. These young ancestors did not claim to be artists; they did not claim to be activists; but they dressed like activists, cameras in hands, pissing photons in the wind, apolitical post-humans protesting they knew not what, for is it any good to protest the wind?

Exterior, stone town - Day

In a post-digital toybox wasteland, the wind-up mechanical snake is king. Meteorological reports imply a delay of 216 frames due to a pressure system with an existentially suspect codec; digital artefacts lingering in the atmosphere, perhaps even as low as head height; anyway, we know the people here were tall and would have been highly sensitive to the threat of low-hanging doorways, windswept gulls, and the like.

She walks heroically towards the sunrise."

Friday, 16 September 2016

Unfound Peoples Videotechnic: Alpha Semester Graduate Screening in Split

Following a harrowing semester in which students grappled with modules such as Mythology of the Self, Rotting the Image, and Setting Your Attitude In Stone, the first ever class of the roaming UPV film and video school are to present their coursework for the public’s appraisal. 

Each of the students created a series of one-minute films in response to the aforementioned topics, contributing to a program of true range and appeal. The Videotechnic took place at Kino Klub Split in April of this year, where the students were aggressively reprogrammed with a warped practical history of artist-oriented film and video. 

Furthermore, the Videotechnic’s principal, failed filmmaker turned guru Graeme Cole, will present the work in progress of his Kino Klub-inspired new video, created as part of an artist’s residency at Kino Klub Split. There will be a brief introduction, and a Q&A at the end, after which those students who graduate will be freed to the outside world to pursue careers of unparalleled artistic excellence and enviable economic stability. 

The screening is open and free to all who wish to attend. It should take less than 2 hours. 

This project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. 

EVENT: Unfound Peoples Videotechnic: Graduate Screening 
WHERE: Kino Klub Split, Ulica slobode 28, 21000 Split 
WHEN: Sunday, 18th September 2016, 20.00 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Sarajevo-Split Log 2

Foreign friends; local heroes; student clichés now with added drones; Kusturica issues; corny Croatian gangster flicks; far too much time spent shuttered from the Balkan sun, frantically editing my Kino Klub flick; and, from the horse's mouth (in Kino Bosna, of course), news of a fringe Sarajevo Film Festival that ran counter to the official one, when the latter was seen to have become a little alienated from its roots.

They used to have a fringe.

VR seminar at SFF

Friends old, new and smiley.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Sarajevo-Split Log 1

"In the time when there was the law that people were not fully responsible for the crime they commited [sic], during stormy weather along Adriatic Coast. (Because there was a southern wind (Yugo) which made people depressive.)"

So reads the .srt introducing the start of the late Montenegrin filmmaker Živko Nikolić's peculiar 1977 little-islander flick, Beštije (Beasts). Coming on like Jean Rollin without the boobs, or even Peter Greenaway without the rhythm, Beštije dwells in uncanny territory, shot on location in the castle town of Kotor, but lit and performed with such artifice that it feels like a claustrophobic chamber play.

I don't think it gives too much away to point out that the only beasts in Beasts are of the humaine kind, a cast of self-interested eccentrics on one side and army of indistinguishable babas on the other, variously trying to shag, lynch, or bury alive a pale stranger who arrives on the island one rainy night (when morning is finally portrayed in the epilogue, the very concept of daylight feels alien). Neither does the wind make much of a an appearance; a relief to me, as I was already discomforted by the introductory lines, having chosen at random to watch this movie on the very day I commenced editing the as yet untitled but Yugo-wind themed video we shot in May as part of my Kino Klub residency.

I've been in Sarajevo for a week, to commence the second part of my Balkan residency (vagaries of scheduling compelled me to switch the Zagreb section of my itinerary for Sarajevo, although I'll still reach Split as planned in the second week of September). My time here will be divided fourfold: the festival; a second, youth film festival; completing the aforementioned wind work ahead of Split; and trying to draw out some connections between the Sarajevo Kino Klub scene and its more celebrated equivalents in Split, Zagreb and Belgrade.

Friday, 1 July 2016

It's Nick's Birthday in London

The Institute's short DIY musical It's Nick's Birthday will close the 2nd Slow Cinema Symposium at UCL next Friday. Please note, director Graeme Cole will tragically not be in attendance.

PROGRAM: Shorts 4
WHERE:  UCL Malet Place Eng 1.02, UCL Institute of Archaeology - 31-34 Gordon Square - London, WC1H 0PY
WHEN: Friday, 8th July 2016, 16.00-18.00 (symposium starts 09.30)
COST: FREE with registration 
NOTES: Some kind of talk with leading man Stewart Lockwood is likely to unfold.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Split Log 9

Preparations gather pace towards the production of an artist's video in response to my residency at Kino Klub Split: baffled by words, feelings, ellipses, images and impressions, I've penned a pseudo-screenplay about a desperate videophile of the future, roaming the abandoned city in search of off-line VHS footage with which to soothe her prosthetic eyes - whose license has expired, making them criminally allergic to internet.

Recce and casting: our cyborg video hunter will be played by fabulously noir-voiced Edita Momić.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Split Log 8

Two artists doing very different but very good work here in Split are (Kino Klub tech person) Marin Tudor and Hrvoje Cokarić.

Tudor is inspiring for his irrepressible enthusiasm for everything. Introduced to me as an 'actor', all this really seems to mean is that he studied acting and now uses his body as tool, object and subject for a range of freely associative and rarely completed projects - inhabiting an abandoned display case outside Split's United Colours of Benetton, sitting Stylites-style half-way up a wall, creating suites of furniture from discarded plastic coffee spoons, tinkering with this or that to see what it could really do. In some ways he reminds me of Richard Widmark's existentially-stranded Harry Fabian in Night & The City, the description of whom as an 'artist without an art' I return to again and again; except that Tudor is an artist with too much art, a co-puppy frustrated by his inability to get things finished, because there's always something else to do, and never a good reason to apply the brakes. I toast you, Marin Tudor (Marin, tu dor!). He is also more than adept with a projector, creating living slides from chemicals and whatever else he finds; he will come on board as projectionist and smoketographer for my forthcoming video shoot.

Cokarić, he of the robotic Dalmation donkeys, is doing his bit for donkey preservation: meeting him on a tour of the mostly (thankfully) defunct local zoo, up in the Marjan hills, he explains that the particular lineage of asses in this part of Croatia has a noble history but faces its end having been out-evolved by the motor car. With a depth of artistic and ecological insight that is surely not lost on these wise creatures themselves (reader, you are encouraged to delve further hereabouts), Mr Cokarić is working on developing the surviving donkeys - and, hopefully, their manifold descendants - into a super-breed of mountain-climbing video edit suites, generating their own power in the unconnected wilderness, and carrying all a nomadic filmmaker requires to produce artist's moving image on the go (one of the donkeys is named “Marina Abramović”). The Chthulucene will be televised! It would be wonderful to establish an itinerant art residency on a donkey's back, it's only a shame I don't have the time - as my Kino Klub residency draws towards its end - to further explore the blurry lines between amateur, industrial and avant-garde in the context of these gloomy cyborg editing stations.

Hrvoje Cokarić: the carrot and the memory stick.

Kino Klub's Sunčica Fradelić horsing around with a 16mm Bolex.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Split Log 7

Out to shoot the wind, but the rain stole the show. The elements make for a flaneur's shot list: the shape of the city mutates when you're hunting for meteorological rather than economic or social currents. Split is full of - almost structured around - strange dead spaces, squares that no-one gathers on, paths that are crossed only laterally, semi-abandoned brutalist playgrounds, idealistically composed but lifeless would-be social spaces. There's another movie in there, or perhaps an opera of echoes; but for now, we follow the wind.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Split Log 6

Mihovil Pansini called his Zagreb ‘anti-films’ a “visual acoustic phenomenon” but it is the middle word that best evokes the feeling, of vibrations on air, of an architectural space to be filled, of an in-between rather than a finite surface. His opposite number on the coast, Ivan Martinac, regarded his own pictures as “films of state”, pyschogeofilmic distillations of a/the “shared otherworldliness” of Split on small format stock. Despite my narratively-oriented work, I feel closer thus far to these Croatians than the distant Belgrade Klub with all their ‘plot’ and “unembellished reality”. It is not so much that I have lost the plot, as that it has dissolved: in the spirit of Martinac and Pansini, hoovering up their images with scant regard for causality, and in unnerving contrast to my infamous Nexus residency in which I literally pre-scripted every minute of the whole three month trial, I have drifted these weeks, absorbing information and experience like a sponge, releasing pungent drips when squeezed by the participants of the Unfound Peoples Videotechnic.

The workshops have progressed well: the participants are broadminded, self-determined and curious, with a healthy dose of dissidence. Despite labelling this inaugural program UPV’s ‘Alpha Semester’, though, it remains very much a beta proposition: I am as yet unsatisified with both form and content, but these are early tests that need to be made, the felling of outlying trees (with attendant squirrel carnage) necessary to get our tractors to the rich bounty at the heart of the forest. We have, I believe, struck a nice balance of my meaningless English-language blather prompting homework assignments of serious enquiry inspired by mis- and partial-understandings of the obscure words and unstable theories asserted in class by a professor who must, above all else, profess to be a terrible speaker.

The Institute’s enemies will be bitter to hear it’s going so well that we have decided to extend my time at the Kino Klub for a few extra weeks. Research into the culture and history of the Kino Klubs, combined with preparing the workshops, has eaten into the time that I had hoped to devote to putting a new video together. Inspired by those historic enclaves of young (mostly) men, engaged in their ideas and their surroundings, creating and solving their own artistic problems, entitled, imprisoned and inspired, I hope I can work something out with their (mixed) spiritual descendents. As a pack-dog, a member of one official, one unannounced, and thirteen secret artist collectives, anyway, it is an unpassable opportunity to hole up in a Klub of huge cultural importance for a few weeks, to steal and to leak esoteric techniques and forge some irreverent tribute to the Yugoslavian ‘amateurs’ who changed the direction of Balkan film and art. I hope to warm up the sensors in the first couple of weeks of May.

Gastrodimensional cake-chart illustrating total of work yet to be achieved.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Split Log 05

The birds are chirping, although there’s no sign yet of the sun. I envy them their circadian rhythms, behaviour as secret information. I have become convinced that my own rhythms have become faulty, my feelings – which perhaps I should have left at home – ebbing and flowing with the unpredictability of the capricious Dalmation winds. Meanwhile, my information sources are wholly orthodox: books, videos, the internet, the flawed recollections of other people. They are reforming as quivering inaccuracies in my mind and, occasionally, as words on the internet or out of my mouth.

Saturday, we officially – but without ceremony – inaugurated the Unfound Peoples Videotechnic at Kino Klub Split (a temporary lodging for a roaming academy). The opening lecture, titled Mythology of the Self, seemed to be well-received by our historic initial cohort. It was a relief just to get through the damned thing without running out of things to say or being assaulted or, worse, called-out. I hope it was of some use, but in developing a total filmmaking education program (indeed, it is billed as a radical de-programming reprogramming program) this first lecture can only be regarded as the damping of the nib. It was far too factual, if my opinions were admirably smeared into the raw information, and with too many references to the ‘real world’. In preparing (destroying) a limited edition .pdf of notes for participants to take away with them, I began to find a greater poetry in omission and deliberate obfuscation; words, as some wise old chap once said, are given to us to hide our true meaning. I’m running an artist’s workshop, not a cooking show.

My own studies, however, focussing presently on the Kino Klub movement, are drawn into a peculiar dichotomy of word and sound-image: the Klubs’ golden era, the hub of their collective thematic resonances, was half a century ago; the movies of the time are largely wordless, but are explained in a tornado of written manifestoes, articles and histories which variously overlap, correct and contradict each other. It’s most inspiring, all this writing, and a curious analogue to what would have been the equivalent had I ‘been there’ – conversation, both languid (lazy young revolutionaries pushing ideas around with twigs on the beaches of Split) and quasi-diplomatic (the minuted, numbered and catalogued ‘discussions’ of Zagreb’s smoky projector rooms). Of course, I wouldn’t have understood a word if I’d ‘been there’. Maybe that would have engendered a more appropriate feeling. Certainly, I’m enjoying (and understanding) the films more on a collective level, starting to feel I know the filmmakers (which I never will) better than I know the films (which I have watched repeatedly). Projections…

Your corrections are welcomed in the Comments box.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Split Log 04

Dazzled by words and light, unable to form the former or comprehend the latter, for now a synthesis of both in the precisely 11,000 as-yet unphotoshopped words below. Logging with words-words is proving somehow unnatural for now. Embiggen for detail.