The not-inconsiderable job of re-working a selection of the original synesthetic paintings into an uninterrupted sequence of abstract animations fell to Tom Beg and Jordan Buckner, who took the paintings we’d created and gave them dynamism, character and energy, pushing the music back though the imagery it had inspired in our collective imagination.
Come the premiere of the animation, Tom, Jordan, Keith and myself were all stuck behind the screen onto which the animation was being projected while, in front of it, the orchestra performed, so we couldn’t see the audience’s faces as the film played out – but the moment of hush, followed by enthusiastic applause, confirmed something rather magical had taken place – a transportive synthesis of sight and sound.
When When The Tides Went Down is broadcast on BBC4 on Sunday night at 10.55pm as part of a showcase of new animation by young directors, it will no doubt strike a peculiarly chilling note for audiences in light of our current circumstances. While Jordan’s haunting vision of a ruined England speaks to some unspecified extinction event triggered by climate change, it makes for unsettling viewing as we sit inside our houses contemplating the far-reaching effects of COVID19.
Filmmakers have been drawn time and again to imagining the end-of-days. When The Tides Went Down is an elegiac and ambiguous addition to the genre. Watching Jordan’s film again I was drawn to sound designer Nainita Desai’s use of the plaintive cry of the curlew; I was reminded how bird song has quickly become a key motif of our present predicament, how bird song has heightened our sensitivity to the emptiness of our streets and encourages us, however queasily, to imagine the peacefulness of a world without us.