Talking with Strangers

I have been asked a few times recently where my ideas come from and does my art have any meaning? So I thought I would write about process. First let me say that I am not interested in narrative film making. I am interested in the art of ideas. When people watch my films I want to convey a sense of mystery and often a sense of unease. I am also fascinated in film at how the human mind makes associations even though they may not be entirely intended. When I start a work I do not always have a preconceived notion of how it will end up. The work evolves. Even though not all of my films are made this way the following is not an uncommon example. My latest work Talking with Strangers began during the week with a message from sound artist APatch OfNettles via Facebook saying that I may be interested in a collaborative half hour radio 'collage' that had just been published by a group of Australian and British sound artists (including himself) known as Pangaean Permafaction. It was based on the HG Wells gothic story The Red Room. I listened to the piece several times, and, as so often happens images came to mind. I started thinking about red rooms initially and then empty rooms. However I wasn't going to tackle a half hour video 'illustrating' the piece. During creating and editing a film I might sit through the same footage 30 or 40 times, which is one reason why my videos are fairly short. The other reason is that with the average humans attention span I think it is testing one's patience (and mine) to expect that anyone is going to sit through long works when they are delivered on an online channel. After listening to the sound collage I began searching through my video libraries for 'rooms' and came across several clips. Along the way I stumbled across other bits of footage that I thought might be interesting one day down the track. In order not to forget the clips I had found that afternoon I opened up a new PowerDirector (my editing software) file and imported those clips so I would remember where they were. Late in the day I started throwing a few clips into the timeline and playing around with flips, chroma key transparencies and other techniques and thought that something interesting might be evolving. Next morning I reviewed what I had done, and found it interesting enough visually to continue experimenting. At this rough draft stage I also started looking for a soundtrack. I have a large library of sound files and usually first port of call are those artists I have previously worked with. I usually look for sound that is not too prescriptive, sounds that tend to defy categorizations of genre. Many hours were spent trying out different tracks before finding Keep a Float by andRetTheNettles. It's an instinctive 'got it' type moment when the piece starts to come together, and it is often around this point that 'meaning' (if indeed there is any) becomes apparent. From there it is a matter of tightening the editing to work in with the soundtrack, little tweaks here and there, bits added and removed before I run it past Joy, my principal adviser. If she gives it the nod then I publish as a password protected file on Vimeo and in this case message APatch OfNettles to preview and hopefully approve. He did. From there it is made publicly available on Vimeo and published to my website and the definite repository on the Internet Archive. In the case of Talking with Strangers it was a nice loop from the initial notification from APatch OfNettles to using one of his sound art creations. The process is simultaneously random and controlled, and fits in with one of the most basic of surrealist principles of 'chance encounters'. Logic has nothing to do with it. For the technically minded all footage is sourced from the Internet Archive, Vimeo, YouTube or supplied by collaborators. Sound files are sourced from the Internet Archive, Free Music Archive, Soundcloud, ccMixter, Jamendo or supplied by collaborators. All material is licensed under the Creative Commons Non Commercial Share Alike International licence and is distributed free of charge and available as downloadable files to be reused as you wish.