A nice surprise this week, an email from the people at the Motus Imago film festival to say Fundus is in competition for ‘Best Animated Short Film’. Congratulations must go to Dee Crisbacher, who brought all these Kick-About-produced images to life.
Artist Tereza Stehlikova’s Tangible Territory is ‘a platform that offers a space for various voices to meet and discuss themes relating to the role of the body, the importance of place and embodied experience, in giving meaning to our every day experience of life and art. By extension, it also reflects on some of the transformations initiated by technology, globalisation and now also the pandemic and to it related questions of embodiment versus disembodiment, being simultaneously here and elsewhere, present and absent in our bodies and our surroundings.’ The Tangible Territory Journal is a ‘celebration of power of creative process and as such, is an ongoing project of collective learning and improving, of sharing, collaboration, curiosity and open mindedness.’
Tereza Stehlikova works as ‘an artist, filmmaker and a senior lecturer. She holds a PhD from the Royal College of Art, where she researched the tactile language of moving image. She is currently engaged in a cross-disciplinary research, investigating how moving image can be used to communicate embodied experience. Stehlikova is a senior lecturer in still and moving image theory and practice, at the University of Westminster and also supervises PhD students at the Royal College of Art. She is a founder of Sensory Sites, an international collective based in London, generating collaborative exhibitions, installations and research projects that explore multi-sensory perception and bodily experience. She also co-founded Artesian, a journal for committed creativity, featuring the writings of John Berger, Don DeLillo amongst many others. Stehlikova has presented her research at a number of international conferences and her films and performances have been shown at a variety of film and music festivals around the world. More about her projects here: cinestheticfeasts.com‘.
Responding to Tereza’s call for submissions for the third edition of her Tangible Territory Journal, I shared Fundus, the short film made in response to The Kick-About No.30, and likewise wrote a short accompanying piece about lock-down, The Kick-About and of ‘making directly’ and ‘doing quickly:
“A few weeks back, the prompt for the Kick-About was ‘Fundus Photography’, with fundus pertaining to categories of retinal photography. Challenged to respond to imagery that was both ‘of the human body’, but also suggestive of more galaxial realms, I set about inflating a latex glove with water and floating it in a goldfish bowl filled with water coloured with some old black ink cartridges I found at the back of a drawer. As I was assembling these ad-hoc components (only let’s call it ‘playing’, for that is what it was), I had no idea I would soon be making a short experimental film in collaboration with another artist, Deanna Crisbacher. As I was holding the latex glove under the tap, I had no guarantee (or indeed much hope), that my idea would come to anything at all. Importantly, I suppose, I didn’t care. I didn’t know then, as I turned the water black with squirrelled ink, that I was in the early stages of making a strange little film offering up expansive, cosmic impressions born from a combination of domestic objects. I didn’t know then I might be writing about this project, even going as far as drawing out from it some final conclusion about the transformative and transportive power of creativity, of making directly, of doing quickly, and the value of community.”
Fundus was a collaboration between myself and Deanna Crisbacher, a short abstract film comprising images I’d produced for The Kick-About No. 30. Fundus has been selected for Motus Imago, a new film festival going by the subtitle, a ‘Showcase of Shapes, Puppets & Moving Things’ – which I’m very happy about. Fundus is indeed a ‘moving thing’, but what sort of a moving thing I’m not sure! This is from the festival organisers: “Motus Imago – Showcase of Shapes, Puppets and Things in Motion, operates in the scope of programming artistic projects that operate in a vast interdisciplinary field, in the scope of multiformat manipulation, from puppet theatre to moving image. Through works that move between current and traditional techniques, dramaturgies and animated forms and animation cinema. It values the experimental nature of artistic works for adults and children and is presented with a set of educational actions that will take place from October 2021 in Aveiro.” Sounds like fun! Thanks again to Dee for the wizardry, and to The Kick-About community for giving me the get-up and go to keep doing stuff and sharing it.
With many thanks to Deanna Crisbacher, I’m happy to present Fundus – a short experimental film originating from the series of photographs I produced for the Kick-About No.30. I had the strongest feeling these inner/outerspace images should move and liquefy, and in so doing, would further push my experience of them into the cosmic! I tried a few techniques out myself to achieve this, but ultimately called on Dee’s much more impressive box of tricks to produce the morphing effects I was after, with the addition of some apposite music, and a nod here and there to some classic science-fiction films. Thanks again to Dee, and also to the Kick-About community for the continuing impetus to make new work so directly.
And a final collection of fundus-inspired photographs, prompted by the Kick-About No. 30 – and this time, science-fiction vibes abound, as the ‘eye in the sky’ starts to evoke much bigger orbs in starrier, more nebulous realms. I really enjoyed producing these images and learned a lot in the process about what I need – and don’t need – if I want to produce painterly and impressionist effects when I’m taking pictures.
A third set of fundus photography-inspired images, conceived and shot in response to the Kick-About No. 30. Not sure to what sort of creature these eyes might belong – something aquatic, or Lovecraftian, likely both.
A second batch of ‘fundus photography’, as inspired by, and produced for, the Kick-About No. 30, which challenged us to make new work on a loose theme of retinal imaging. In common with the first set of images, I was working with a simple ad-hoc set-up – glass, latex, water and ink – and shooting outside. Not sure all of these are human eyes; there’s something decidely ‘chameleon-meets-praying mantis’ about a few of the results here, which pleased me, of course.
Even though this shoot was a PVA-free zone, you might be forgiven for thinking I’ve been up to some older tricks – I haven’t, and I wasn’t, but I suspect anyone who really knows me could pick some of these images out as mine without the bother of me saying another word about them.
I guess the first thing to establish is no actual eyes were harmed in the making of these images! I should say too, no actual eyes were photographed either. In common with these recent images, I looked to various commonplace things at my disposal, and once again channelled my inner low-budget film-maker to respond as instinctively as possible to the retinal-imagery of The Kick-About No. 30.
I won’t reveal my secrets just yet, but suffice to say there is now a shortage of red food colouring and olive oil in our kitchen. I don’t think I will ever tire of the ‘in-camera’ transformations produced by light, specularity and depth-of-field, the magic that sometimes happens between the subject and the lens. I was inspired by images of cataracts and ‘damage’ to the eye (and I think, more gruesomely, by A Clockwork Orange too). In terms of producing some of the more painterly noise in the images, the bokeh, scintillas and dust, I also revisited Street Of Crocodiles by the Brothers Quay.
This set of resulting images is but a small sample, as I did a bunch of different things over four different days. From these very biological-seeming images, things became more painterly and strange, so I’ll be sharing some more ‘fundus photography’ in the coming days. I’ve certainly been having some fun.