The Documentary approach

SURFACES AND STRATEGIES – CREATIVE RESEARCH

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This Module is coming to an end and it is time, I think, to start reflecting about the future and about how some ideas related to my project could evolve in time.

During Week 2, we had the chance, as previously discussed, to create a trailer to present our current practice to our Professor and Tutors and during that discussion that evolved from what we created, I had the chance to watch the 35mm short film created by David Ellison in 2015, titled “Herdwick Common”. This brief video project served as an introduction to the namesake book he created in collaboration with Adam Atkinson, who founded Cherchbi Company. I appreciated the documentary style of this work and made me reflect about the possibility to create something similar for my work.

Of course, due to the fact that the subject matter is completely different, and so they are backgrounds and aims of our two projects, a potential short documentary about my practice should have a completely different visual and conceptual style.

My aim has always been to include into my work some articles written by professionals working in different fields, such as Psychologists, Anthropologists, Historians, Neurologists, but working to create and manage my exhibition during these days I realized that not many people are interested (or have the patience) to read written information nowadays. I still think they might be crucial to provide different points of view about the discussed topic and my work, but I also believe that, alongside their distribution, even a different solution must be found in order to engage the attention of the wider audience possible. Then I wondered: what if they become part of a documentary?

Once more, collaborating with other artists to create this kind of project will be crucial and necessary, but this would not only improve the sense of a continuous cooperation among different creative minds and forms of Art, but it would also enhance the quality of the final product itself.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to watch again the documentary “Room 237”, created by Rodney Ascher, focused on those inner meanings and messages contained by the 1980 Stanley Kubrick’s movie “The Shining”. The first time I watched “The Shining” I was a teenager and I already had the possibility to read the original story into the book written by Stephen King. At the beginning I was surprised, almost shocked and upset, to see how one of my favourite Directors ever changed so drastically some important elements of a book written by one of my favourite Authors. I thought that the plot seemed cut with an axe. Maybe Jack Nicholson did it while shouting “Here’s Johnny”?

Stanley Kubrick, The Shining, “Here’s Johnny” Scene, uploaded on Youtube on November 2011. ©Stanley Kubrick, 1980.

I have to admit that for years, since then, I did not watch that film again because it made me feel uncomfortable, but then I decided to face it from a different angle, asking myself if Kubrick’s intention was really to narrate a story already written by someone else or to experiment a different route using that story almost as an “escamotage”. During that second vision, I have been fascinated by his visual solutions, by the constant sense of tension he was able to recreate, by the fact that even if many elements of the original story went missing, all important things were there. Of course, I had no elements enough to examine it more in depth and this is what “Room 237” helped me to do.

Rodney Ascher, Room 237, USA, 2012. Produced by IFC Films/IFC Midnight. Released on Youtube in 2015 by James Richardson for documentary purposes. ©Rodney Ascher, 2012.

Ascher did not simply analysed the film as a piece of Art, but he invited experts and Kubrick’s fans, like Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan e Jay Weidner and Buffy Visick, to provide their personal and professional interpretations of its contents, even analysing the whole body of work done by the Director. Theories vary from observations that connect this movie to the Native Americans’ genocide, to the theory that Kubrick insert elements to declare he took part into the fake moon landing of Apollo 11 as film Director, even linking this idea to the fact that NASA collaborated with him to create all special effects for his “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Each narrator, used visual and conceptual references included into “The Shining” to prove his/her theory and they used each one’s specific professional and personal backgrounds to discuss this work. Kubrick never declared anything about these presented ideas, but some collaborators decided to contradict them.

What matters in this work in relation with “I can hear you now” are not in the contents themselves, but the solutions Ascher used to discuss Kubrick’s work. My idea, currently just a desire, is to create a wider body of work, involving both moving and still images and experiments and, subsequently, to ask those professionals and to those artists who collaborated and, hopefully, will collaborate with me to discuss my project providing their perspective, interpreting what they see, analysing its aims and that subject matter which constitute the reason behind this work. I would be interested in hearing their opinions about those visual solutions that evolved, and will evolve, in time, even interpreting each other’s work engaging almost a constructive discussion about Art and how it could try to provide some help in analysing social and psychological problems.

This short film with a documentary style, would provide my project with a wider perspective and a stronger background due to the analysis made by experts in different sectors and maybe it will enhance the interest of the audience in my work and the discussed topic itself or, hopefully, encouraging that deeper sense of empathy among individuals I am desperately trying to stimulate.

I perfectly understand this is a very ambitious idea and that it will be difficult to realise, but it is something I want to consider since this project means a lot to me, not only on a professional level, but on a personal one as well.

Many things need to be planned before its production can start and at the moment I only have questions. How can I finance such a body of work? How to manage the time I have? How to empower my network (and, definitely, my networking skills)? Who will write the plot? Who will direct it? Who will be involved and where to find artists and professionals available to collaborate to such a demanding project?

I guess that time will speak for itself and that if I will try hard to focus more on solutions rather than on those evident problems already in front of my eyes, I will find a way to make this idea become real.

 

References:

Ascher Rodney, Room 237, 2012. Produced by IFC Films/IFC Midnight, USA.

Ellison David, Atkinson Adam, Herdwick Common, 2015, Cumbria, UK. Produced by Shuffle and released in 2015 on David Ellison’s official website http://www.davidellison.co.uk/portfolio/herdwick-common-video/

Ellison David, Atkinson Adam, Herdwick Common Book, 2015, Cherubi, UK.

King Stephen, The Shining, 1977, Doubleday, New York, USA.

Kubrick Stanley, The Shining, 1980. Written by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson, produced by Stanley Kubrick, USA/UK.

Kubrick Stanley, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968. Written by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Clarke, produced by Stanley Kubrick/MGM, USA/UK.

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