water is meaningless without ships (2011)

“Water is meaningless without ships and that bespeaks harbours to haven them, and men and cargoes. What I have written does not pretend to poetry. It only says what it seemed could be said. … ” – ‘Wellington Harbour’, Denis Glover

 

 

the sound component to this film includes a re-reading of the poem Le Tempestaire, written in 2010 while I was living in Wellington, where I had a habit of walking along the waterfront. The title of the poem references Jean Epstein’s cinema, the title of the film the once-removed echo of that waterfront, which New Zealand writer Denis Glover also looked out onto, from his room in the hillside suburb of Mt. Victoria, while writing the 1974 book of poems, Wellington Harbour.

Le Tempestaire’s formal structure includes snatches of songs in between lines, like a song half-heard while walking past a café, which ghosts through memory but doesn’t stick around long enough to embed itself as a refrain, functioning more like a radio going off-frequency, the poem a porosity of listening-to-language which folds more recognisable texts into its universe.

water is meaningless without ships repeats this process again, with the (de-sequenced) poem itself acting as a ghost of a refrain within the transmitted sound. this sound also plays with the idea of natural sound within the cinematic space, both by literalising a disjuncture found within the radiophonic medium between voice and presence, and also by responding to the visual space’s depiction of a field-trip to Kinglake, originally intended as a foray to gather field-recordings, which became a confrontation with silence upon the realisation that the whole area had been burnt out by bushfires.

– Sally Ann McIntyre, 2014

 

http://inexcessofthegivenimage.blogspot.co.nz/2010/11/le-tempestaire.html

 

For me, I was partly conceiving the work as an internal conversation around how cinema both responds to and generates both memory and narrative. Cinema always builds a kind of narrative, no matter whether it’s chosen or avoided as a strategy, and I’ve always been more interested in how cinema’s relationship to the recording apparatus meant films could be divided into two tracks in terms of narrative: The closed and the open, or the single meaning as opposed to the multiple.

The dominant forms are always assidiously concerned with providing only a single possible reading, and become readily obsessive about that precision – for instance in the way that scriptwriting for Hollywood has been captured for a long time by the post Syd Field et al camp that dictates which minute of a film certain structural devices should occur. This is a necrotising process, that kills the expressive possibilities of the form, and replaces it with both a failed attempt at the artificiality of forms that are not specifically linked to the ontologies of the form (literature, theatre), and a commodity that can be more readily exploited and controlled by its funders.

Of course – as Robert Bresson or Jean Eustache will testify in their very different ways – the form is more robust and more complicated than that. Indeed part of the problem with cinema is that even the most cynical operation of the industrialised form cannot completely dampen the extra-narrative qualities of cinema, so even work that does attempt to squash the life from the form will often fail to do so, as long as some recording element remains. (Whether this is something that occurs with purely digitally generated work is still a moot point, for this argument I’m talking about cinema within the context of the cinematic apparatus of camera, sound recording device and editing device).

However the more interesting films and the more interesting process for me has always been in terms of the cinematic open text. Because an audience viewing cinema will always relate to it as a potential narrative, this means there is less need to construct a narrative, unless your approach is to dictate what response you will get. I’ve never wanted to do that, it seems much more interesting to create work to whom every audience member can have a different response than when where you impose their response upon them. (Obviously there’s a politics to this perspective too). So part of the idea is to understand cinema as being a system for building work of essentially infinite potential meaning, because every audience member will have their own response.

So the idea of this kind of work is not to dictate in advance what the meaning is, but to allow the space for the meaning to permeate through the juxtapositions in the work. In this case, my images of travelling to the silence of a dead forest a couple of hours out of Melbourne gently settle into a kind of stability next to Sally’s field recordings and reworkings of poetry through the Radio Cegeste station transmitter.

– Campbell Walker, 2014

 

 

 

kipl gig

Made in Melbourne, June 2011

First screened as a live cinema piece at KIPL gallery, West Melbourne, June 22, 2011.

Screenings:

For a few leaves more, The Threave Cinematheque, Dunedin, November 29, 2012.

KIPL: Postmortemism #003, Westspace, Melbourne, February 14, 2013.

Dunedin Film Society, Dunedin, August 28, 2013.

 

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