Light & Time: Project Review

This has been my favourite of the two week projects.

It’s been brilliant to work freely in one of my favourite mediums, photography, as we had no set concept. Even more than this it was really great to work in a darkroom, which I’ve never done before, and would love to expand into.

Image result for william eggleston tate

William Eggleston… 

Similarly it was brilliant working with video. Aside from a few shorts I’ve never properly had the time or freedom to make a film, despite cinema being perhaps my favourite art form and one of my big influences.

Image result for le mepris poster

These reflective posts really make me think I’m just talking about myself far too much. 

It was also really great tying the project to my interest in 20th century modernism, via the photograms and my film, which was tied to early film projects like Man with a Movie Camera and Berlin: Symphony of a great city.

Image result for walter ruttmann berlin symphony of a metropolis

Walter Ruttman: Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grostadt

It was nice to come full circle from reading Eisenstein’s theories of montage at the start of the year to being fully influenced by them in the last two week project. The editing stage was really fun using Final Cut Pro.

Image result for sergei eisenstein montage

Eisenstein’s diagrams for Alexander Nevsky

In conclusion then this project has encouraged me to use other media and explore film and photography further. I’ve really enjoyed the two week projects and am really looking forward to having greater freedom doing the fine art pathway.

Light & Time: Second Film

Picking up from last time, my filming trip to London was very successful. Here is the finished film.

The theme here as ever is how to capture the modern city. Here I’ve attempted to create a montage.

The film is a good start but needs improvements, so I intend to create more and make a series of this idea.

Firstly the film gives you a headache, which in some ways I quite like, but generally I do feel the speed of the panning should be slower. The speeds should also be more or less unified throughout, so next time I will try and time the durations.

I made the mistake of not always panning in the same direction, which will be rectified next time by only panning from left to right. For some reason this is easier on the eye.

I would also really like to play with the transitions, making the film more illusionistic. This could be achieved by trying to pan on to brick walls or dark areas each time and then coming out in the next shot in very similar starting points; thus it would look like the camera had not turned off.

Light & Time: Continuing Ideas

My footage from the Goldsmiths open day sadly proved fairly unsuccessful. There were some snatches of good footage, particularly from the London Overground, but not enough to make a good film out of. The ideas were not unified and the footage from my mad homemade dolly was very very shaky.

Therefore I decided to change my ideas. My already established ideas were to try and make an interesting film concerning the streets of London, utilising the moving image in particular. This would continue in a new medium my own previous drawings and photographs of cities.

My influences were already Raoul Coutard and the opening scenes of Down by Law and Manhattan, where the camera roves around New Orleans and New York respectively.

Related image

Woody Allen/Gordon Willis- Manhattan 1979

Image result for vivre sa vie paris

Jean-Luc Godard/Raoul Coutard- Vivre Sa Vie 1962

I then had a breakthrough remembering that Adrian had shown us a great short surrealist film by Maya Deren called Meshes of the Afternoon, one scene in particular where Deren lifts her foot, then steps after a cut into a different landscape.

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 1.38.00 PM.png

Maya Deren/Alexander Hamid- Meshes of the Afternoon 1943

This was a real breakthrough. I realised I could look at the illusionistic aspect of the cut, one of the cornerstones of cinematic art. I came up with an idea that could fit in with my neo-cubistic city ideas. This was that I would put the camera on a tripod, and then move the camera in a smooth pan around different streets. Then, by cutting them together, the film would become one continuous pan around London. Thusly I set out for the Slade open day with camera and tripod in hand.

Photograms

A photogram is a photograph made without a camera. They are made in a darkroom, using light sensitive paper with objects on top of it, which is exposed to light from an enlarger. The result is that shadows of the objects appear on the paper.

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy- Fotogramm

Transparent objects are interesting as they add modulations in grey. In my own photograms I was immediately drawn to the suggestion of using film negatives. I arranged them in a grid as I have done in previous drawings. I’m pleased with the results. I really love how evocative this process is of high modernist era art.

Man Ray- Rayograph 1921

This process was used to create some of the first photographs, possibly invented by William Henry Fox Talbot. Man Ray called his photograms Rayographs, and the Weimar artist Christian Schad called them Schadographs. Sadly Gubbinsographs has less of a catchy ring to it.

Christian Schad- Schadograph No. 16

Another brief technical note on developing photographs. First the paper is placed in a bath of developer for 10 seconds faced down, then a further 50 seconds the right way up. Then the paper is dropped from a height into a stop bath for 30 seconds, followed by 5 minutes in a bath of fixer for 5 minutes.

P1070956.JPG

Test strip for a larger photogram. One important aspect of making a photogram is making test strips to work out how much light an object needs. In this case the film strips were exposed for 20 seconds.

p1070957

“Gubbinsogram/New York Photogram 03.11.16”

 

“Light & Time” Day Two

I took advantage of having to commute all the way to New Cross in South London to get some footage.

I thought this would be a good old opportunity as I could do two initial ideas; filming in the London Underground and on the streets, and emulating Pennebaker’s Daybreak Express as part of the commute took place on the London Overground.

I stuck the camera into the granny trolley/dolly and started wheeling it all around London, focusing especially on abnormally excellent light areas. It was a very fortunate day as bright sunlight pervaded throughout, perfect conditions. I filmed around Baker Street Station, inside the Baker Street and Canada Water underground stations, on Waterloo Bridge and on the Overground line to New Cross Gate. I documented the process photographically too.

The raw footage looks promising but will require heavy editing, as I mostly shot long takes inside the trolley which will need to be cut down.

This street-filming approach fits in nicely with previous and future (hopefully) projects where I’ve looked at depicting cities. I started to think about early modernist films with the same goal, like Dziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera. I want to try and emulate Vertov’s rapid industrial montage when I start editing.

Image result for vertov man with a movie camera

Dziga Vertov- Man With a Movie Camera

I also came up with the idea of emulating the great experimental filmmaker Bruce Conner, an associate of the Beat Generation and hippie movements. He made an installation for three projectors called Three Screen Ray, which I saw with some friends in New York during the summer. It is a fantastic film in which lots of different pieces of film are edited into an insanely frenetic montage to the Ray Charles song “What’d I Say”. I might try a similar approach, editing to music, with my footage.

Image result for bruce conner three screen ray

Image result for bruce conner three screen ray

Image result for bruce conner three screen ray

Image result for bruce conner three screen ray

Stills from Bruce Conner’s Three Screen Ray

Project Number Eight: “Light & Time”

Despite only being one day into this project it’s already shaping up to be my favourite so far. The brief is to investigate lens based media, i.e film and photography.

Image result for jules et jim

Francois Truffaut- Jules et Jim

Photography is well trodden ground but film is something that I am immensely interested in but have not worked extensively in, mostly completing a few small scale amateur projects in the past.  Maybe doing something new is why it’s so far so fun.

Image result for fellini 8 1/2

Federico Fellini- Otto e Mezzo

First things first I researched a lot of experimental and art filmmakers whose ideas I could use in my own project. Our films are capped at around two minutes long, so I decided right away to investigate short films and experimental techniques and ideas that could be interesting, because in a piece so short some kind of narrative ideas are probably not hugely viable. I also investigated films that have made extensive use of light or time.

Image result for three colours red

Krysztof Kieslowski- Three Colours Red

Investigating the history of cinema is the most important thing for me when learning to make a film. My first thought was a short film by 60s documentary maker DA Pennebaker called Daybreak Express, in which Pennebaker took a small camera on to the overground portion of the NYC subway at sunrise, with spectacular results.

Image result for Da pennebaker daybreak express

DA Pennebaker- Daybreak Express

I also really liked the experimental methods employed by Jean-Luc Godard and his cinematographer Raoul Coutard in the early 60s. These included shooting films in the streets of Paris, guerilla style, and wheeling Coutard around in a wheelchair in lieu of proper equipment.

Image result for films like breathless

The famous Champs Elysee scene from Godard’s Breathless. Coutard put the camera inside a post office trolley.

I also thought about initial ideas, and immediately hit upon the idea of filming in London. This is because I am there for open days three times in the next two weeks so filming there will be much easier than usual. Also the light in London is often very beautiful, and there is lots of artificial light of interest.

Image result for bob mazzer

Bob Mazzer photographed the London Underground.

I linked this idea to the Pennebaker film and Godard, and an idea I had in Paris of making a film running around labyrinthine subway tunnels. So I’ll probably shoot something tomorrow on the Underground tomorrow, or on buses. I am going to Goldsmiths’ open day which involves using the London Overground line, coincidentally.

Image result for down by law

Jim Jarmusch- Down by Law

In preparation for this I took a leaf out of Godard and Coutard’s book and have constructed a makeshift dolly out of a stroller, as seen carried by old women worldwide. This should make smooth filming in the street possible. Also got some new film for the trusty SLR.

I’ve already looked at a lot of photography for the street photography project, so this is currently less of a priority. Taking pictures is something I’m already more or less confident with.

p1070943

Research sheet for this project.