In some delicious ramble he had found
A little place with boughs all woven round
And in the middle of all a cleaner pool
Than e’er reflected in its pleasant cool.
On Tuesday I had no ideas. On Wednesday I had to present my profound idealessness to a class full of students expecting me to have something more to say than ‘Um, idk… WATER!’
My friends, Artists and Other Creatives™ assured me that my ideas would emerge organically from practice. Film, they said, and so I did. Often, they said, and so I did. But the ideas didn’t come. Or at least, if they did, the profound wedge of self doubt that governs my life’s work quashed the satisfying buzz of an idea bubbling into consciousness.
But I had filmed, often, like the artists told me to. And when I presented my films people enjoyed them, they wished I had let the images happen for longer, they saw a bit of James Benning’s approach to Looking & Listening in them — something political in the act of giving attention to the unremarkable. From their responses I was reminded, as I often am, of the Daniel Miller quote that reads:
through dwelling on the more mundane sensual and material qualities of the object, we are able to unpick the more subtle connections with cultural lives and values that are objectified through these forms, in part because of the qualities they possess.
You can see some fragments of what I presented here:
For so much of my time at university I have been confined to the written text, so the thought of approaching film as another form of knowledge making is somewhat foreign to me. (I am reminded of another quote, this time from David MacDougall: images and written texts not only tell us things differently, they tell us different things.) So, as I often do when I am feeling unsteady on my feet, I went to Twitter and I asked my wise friends and followers where they felt that they could best look and listen to the watery parts of London, and I created this map:
And tomorrow I am dragging my camera and The Photographer to Hampstead Heath, to pay attention to the colour of the pond in the shifting daylight.