As part of Corridor 8’s winter launch of Issue 3 in Newcastle, we held a open-submission film screening in the Star and Shadow cinema space. We now come back with a special feature on our three favourite films. The seven films screened in Newcastle demonstrated the diversity of activity throughout the North East and the multitude of approaches to moving image, from the use of stills and found footage, to musicals and documentary styles. All of the films selected were fascinating, but we at Corridor 8 felt these three deserved a special mention.
The Arka Group, Extramission, 2011, 19 minutes
Extramission by The Arka Group (Ben Jeans Houghton and Matthew Giraudeau) is a sequence of snippets taken from a biology professor’s ill-fated research expedition made in 1992. It combines scientific footage of wildlife and tropical scenes, with a voiceover of his secretary, who narrates the circumstances behind the tapes sent back by the professor from an increasingly erratic excursion. The vivid imagery is documentary-like, but acute observations of nature and wildlife are occasionally broken by the professor protagonist shaking branches and encouraging insects to act in front of the camera. The narration describes the professor’s increasingly irrational behaviour and the growing lack of objective distance to his subject matter. The final title sequence concludes the story, stating that the professor never returned to University and the tapes remain the only evidence of his final research trip. In discussion with Houghton it transpired that the tapes were actually found by himself and Matthew, and the narrative constructed from their initial viewing of the footage, watching hours and hours of exotic wildlife to finally see the filmmaker step into shot. The film is beautifully crafted, but the knowledge that the back story is a fiction, opens up a new interpretation of the entire video.
The ARKA group was founded by Ben Jeans Houghton and Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau with the premise of creating a collective of multi disciplinary individuals working toward a collaborative research practice discovering and disseminating information through new visual synergies.
Their latest film The Ocelli can be seen at Spaceinbetween Gallery; London. 03/03/ – 07/04/12
Kate Liston, Practice Maintaining, 2011, 6:28 minutes
Kate Liston’s short film is a fast-paced textual narrative that guides the viewer through observations of Stephenson’s Works, the locomotive factory of ‘Rocket’ inventors George and Robert Stephenson. Liston’s film focuses on the little-known fact that George Stephenson was also the inventor of the ‘cucumber straightener’, using a combination of stills and moving images, the imagery seeks out reoccurring parallel lines in the Stepehnson’s Works, the train tracks, double yellow lines outside the works, the thick walls of the glass straightener. The disjointed pace as well as the relationship between the string of visuals forces the viewer to read the narrative in a different way – one that challenges a normative structure. Contrasting masculine and feminine forms, Liston playfully juxtaposes a rigid scientific objectivity with her own subjectivity.
Liston has developed a site-responsive practice that combines chance encounters, subjective observations and historical inquiry in equal measure – employing sculpture, video, writing, codes, symbols and structures to map space. Practice Maintaining was made during a CIRCAWorks residency at Stephenson Works, Newcastle.
Diane Guyot, Cable, 2011, 11:56 minutes
Diane Guyot’s anthropological documentary contrasts the idleness of a female restaurant worker with the intense labour of a group of male workers moving an electric cable from under a street in Beijing. The physical struggle of the men becomes more poignant as the film progresses. The lack of subtitles enforces a sense of estrangement separating the non-Mandarin-speaking viewer from the workers on camera. Our incapacity to ease the experience of the workers as well as the viewer’s placement in a voyeuristic position creates an uncomfortable tension between us, the men working and the passers-by.
Guyot is a French artist based in Liverpool. In a quest that she describes as “both poetic and burlesque”, she initiates every work through a naive question. Highlighting the absurdity of everyday situations, Guyot’s varied practice includes drawings, videos, photography, objects and performances.
Clara Casian and Carol Huston.