Singing the Horizon 10 mins 40 secs SD Video (1997)
“This sophisticated landscape video is one of a series of kinaesthetic works which arose from the co-operation between artist Sercombe and Jones, singer and composer of experimental music.
The camera takes us on a melodic journey along the horizon of the Norfolk Broads. The line in the distance where heaven and earth seem to touch each other is the guideline which transports us through the rich natural beauty of this area. The travel starts at the break of day, in early summer. Entrusted to the advancing eye of the camera, nature passes like a chameleon. Harmonious transitions, intervening colours and constant changes in the appearance of the unending, extensive area of Halvergate impinge upon our retinas.
Jones’ high voice and singing violin playing accompany the viewer on this apparently ‘horizontal journey.’ She calls to the birds in their flight through the open air, blows the wind through the sails of the windmills and whispers nervously through the land of reeds. Gradually the horizon transforms itself into a curve and nature metamorphoses into a more and more artistic abstraction…set in motion by a centrifugal mechanism.” Marieke van Hal WWVF Catalogue 1997
First screened at the World Wide Video Festival in Amsterdam Sept 1997. Also at A British Spring, Fylkingen, and Reel Love Festival, Norwich. East England Arts Funded.
Tongues Undone SD Video (1998)
Tongues Undone is a cross media work, seeking out a hybrid language at the intersections between gestural sound, music, projected image, text and improvised live performance. It is a collaboration with performance artists Cris Cheek and Sianed Jones.
The central theme of the work is the human voice, and the translation of pure vocal statements into choreographed movement and gesture. Likewise, graphic symbols and grafitti are translated into performed sound and body movements. Spoken words mutate into animated text on the video screen creating a cyclic dialogue between the different linguistic forms.
The piece was conceived as an integrated live media and performance work. As the show began, Cheek and Jones were sitting at the bar, indistinguishable from the rest of the audience. Their poetic ‘conversation’ was then amplified through the PA system, challenging the boundaries that lie between personal and public space. They were then lit by an animated spotlight of projected grafitti, which followed them through the performance space. The graffiti and fragmentary texts provoked an extemporised dialogue, translating the imagery into streams of vocal sound and physical gesture. The performers then moved to the main screen where their bodies merged with their virtual counterparts as the single screen work, seen here, began.
The staging of its premiere, in September 1998, was funded by the World Wide Video Festival, and was site specific to one of the performance spaces at The Melkveg. Eastern Arts funded the production of the single screen work integral to the show.
Maud 14 minutes (excerpt) SD widescreen video (2000)
“Come into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the rose is blown.”
Maud is a visionary interpretation of Alfred Tennyson’s poem of the same name. The poem tells, in first person monologue, the story of a man’s obsessive and unrequited love for a rich lord’s daughter. Tennyson described his protagonist as ‘the heir of madness…raised to sanity by a pure and holy love…passing from the height of triumph to the lowest depth of misery, driven into madness by the loss of her whom he has loved.’
The video quotes a few short fragments from the poem, which together chart this descent from joyful anticipation into abject misery. This transition becomes a journey through intense emotion, manifest in the visual and aural reading of landscape settings. The raw materials for the piece were collected in two very different locations. The first was a bush walk via a series of fishing pools near Taupo, New Zealand, in high summer. The second was a stretch of East Anglian woods and marshes in winter. The two contrasting locales and seasons loosely correspond to the two extremes of emotion expressed in the poem.
A formal unity is derived by interpreting both landscapes with a hand held camera, gestural, cyclic movements and a very slow digital shutter. This technique permits a highly painterly approach to the reading of each space. The poem is reinterpreted by echoing its narrative through empathic visual abstraction.
The soundtrack is largely composed of electro-acoustically treated fragments of the poem, deconstructing the words and syllables to generate a dense aural landscape with multiple resonances. Each spoken phrase, having first delivered its narrative intent, is recycled in many different ways to reveal its musical, rhythmic and concrete qualities.
Sianed Jones collaborates as performer and composer during the final seven minutes of the piece (not seen on the video). Her presence embodies the persona of Maud, as object of the protagonist’s cloying and oppressive desire. She uses her extended vocal improvisational techniques with samples of her voice and violin, triggered from different parts of her Victorian costume.
“The deconstruction of the words creates a layered and echoing landscape of sound that makes the poem’s intense emotions palpable..Maud appears on stage..behind her the sun can still be glimpsed. Like the tortured heart of the crazed man, the band of light twists before it turns into an empty shell and dies.” Lies Holtrop World Wide Video Festival 2000
First screened at WWVF 2000
La Leccion Inglesa 8 mins 30 secs SD Video (2000)
“Your children are not your children…You can house their bodies, but not their souls, for their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow, which you cannot visit…”
“These lines by Kahlil Gibran could have been the motto for the video, which was recorded in the Aragon region in northern Spain. Of the desolate village of Berdun we see only details: a door half rotted away, a rusty letterbox, a gate overrun with weeds. This is how the stranger sees Berdun. But the village children give their own voice to all these things. They name their world in broken English, the language of the tourist, and in Spanish, their native tongue. Their voices come out of the wall and resound in the space behind a weather-beaten door. The sound gradually becomes evermore distorted..by slowdowns and echoes until a strange rhythm is formed. The village gets a heartbeat. It is as though the children talk in ritual formulas in an incomprehensible language. Their eyes look at us from another world, one we can never enter. They are rooted in the village, but already live in the future.” Lies Holtrop WWVF Catalogue 2000
Screened at the World Wide Video Festival, Amsterdam (2001), Norwich Art Centre and in Berdun.
The Listening Place 6 mins HD video (2001)
The Listening Place is an impressionistic and visionary diary of a single working day at Cambridge market place. From dawn until dusk it observes the changing rhythms of human activity, framed by the fountain, shop facades and rows of stalls.
Each sequence adopts a matting device which combines two or more time windows into the framed space. Each window shows a different significant or lyrical moment in the day. The intention was to devise a unique method for distilling out these dramatic moments from 20 hours of recorded material. As one observes the market place, there might be four different windows interacting, creating the illusion that all these events are happening simultaneously.
Time lapse was used to create a visual contrast between the personal and public spaces occupied within the frame. The woman eating her lunch seemed lost in quiet reverie, oblivious to the surrounding hubbub of city activity. The blackbird settling on the fountain cues the small child to hunt for her father, lost in the crowd.
A range of digital filters were employed to transform photographic reality into painterly and gestural forms. The rendered imagery highlights the boundaries between the windows of activity whilst suggesting the protagonists are living out their day within an animated painting.
Ed Kelly’s soundtrack adopts the stratagems of electro-acoustic sound design to build a soundscape from the ambient sounds of the market. This soundscape traces the changing moods and acoustic qualities of the space, combining the intimate with the panoramic. This mood is counterpointed by a simple musical theme: four harmonic bass guitar tones, constantly reiterated and developed through digital processing.
The film was funded by and first screened on Anglia Television in the UK. Screened at WWVF 2001
Burano SD Video 10 mins HD Video (2003)
Burano is an intimate observation of domestic space on a small Venetian island. In some ways it is a hybrid of some of the strategies which informed Thera (1984) and East Coast (1981). As in Thera, the camera acts as voyeur, catching glimpses of everyday life in a picturesque village, with brief portraits of the locals intercut with the observation of textural forms. As in East Coast, the visual treatment transforms its source materials into painterly abstraction, at times a pixillated tapestry of kinetic shapes, at others a collage of interactive visual elements.
Jonathan Lambert’s musical response takes its initial cue from the sound of church bells in the opening sequence. These are echoed and extended by a sparse marimba melody line. Arpeggios accompany the rapid animation of metal grids and windows, or the visual meter imposed by the staccato movements of cats, fishermen and passersby.
First exhibited at the Norwich Fringe Festival October 2003.
Walking, Breathing SD Video (2005)
Walking, Breathing was shot during a three day hike across the Hardangervidda mountain plateau in southern Norway, in August 2004. The landscape is a pristine alpine wilderness, populated by wild reindeer, red foxes, walkers and the occasional mountain hut.
Its structure is organic and evolutionary, linking layers of activity as if lines in a visual music score. In this piece, two cycles, breathing and the regular pace of footsteps create the basis for the underlying form. Both Sianed Jones’ soundscape andthe visual movement are linked to these interwoven tempos. The journey begins in alpine meadows in the early morning, with wind blown flora and insect life observed with an extreme macro lens. These short fragments repeat and flow like ink across an ever-changing canvas, intimate space colliding and seamlessly merging with the panoramic mountainscapes.
First screened at the Norwich Fringe Festival 2005.
Delirium 10 mins HD Video (2006)
Delirium is a gothic, trance-like vision of Brisbane, inspired by its skyscrapers, parks and surrounding forests. It was shot in high summer during a one month residency at Raw Space Gallery, using infrared, time lapse and closely worked montage. The use of infrared forced certain constraints on the film making process. Each frame was exposed for at least 1/3 of a second, and colour was ‘implied’ through post production. The resulting imagery has a dream-like, hazy quality, evoking a mood of agoraphobia and disorientation. In one sense the film is a diary of the time spent in the city, reflecting the film maker’s sense of dislocation and discomfort in the midsummer tropical humidity!
The lyrics are sung by sound artist Matt Warren, in the style of a chant, with electronic underscore.
I jitterbugged into jungle city
a shimmering delirium
of clustering geometries
splicing clouds in a black light sky
First exhibited at Raw Space Galleries, Brisbane and in Hobart, Tasmania, February 2006.
The Whispering Bridge 8 mins 25 secs HD Video (2007)
An evocation of an early summer’s day in Walberswick, Suffolk, told through quiet images and ambient sound. Shot in infrared and sepia toned to evoke memories of Victorian holidays on the English coast.
“What a soft and shimmery feel this video has. Love the way it flows, like it’s life viewed through the eyes of the bridges that carry us and bring us safe passage.” Troy Rickertsen.