mirror | writing

mirror | writing is a film poem, in which I explore the acts of looking, reading and writing, through a series of still and moving monochrome pictures. It started as a visual gag: I pictured a large hammer next to a mirror, with the caption, “In emergency, break glass.” What’s on the other side of the looking-glass? A chessboard, a red queen, Alice’s journey of self-discovery. A world where the rules are reversed. I decided to make a film poem featuring the red queen and me (represented by a black knight – geddit?), in which the viewer is taken to the other side of the mirror.

I used a compositional technique that often drives my writing, selecting a limited set of images (in this case, a mirror, a hammer, a book, a chessboard and the two chess pieces) and combining them in various ways, experimenting with juxtapositions and different ways of presenting the objects. Ever since I set fire to a tree in my grandad’s garden when I was ten, I have been fascinated by fire, and an image that has repeatedly imposed itself on my mind’s eye lately has been that of one of my own books, in flames. So I knew early on that I would include footage of a burning copy of the mannequins are more real than you. In the end, I burned just one page (a poem called “The mannequins are only playing dead”), and in the film poem this shot appears more than once, playing at different speeds and, in its first iteration, in reverse, so that the written page is created by the flames. But I didn’t want the destruction of my own work to end there. Inspired perhaps by @gadgetgreen  (who a year or so ago tore up, mangled and generally wrecked a copy of my book Mono and tweeted the pictures), I filmed a stop-motion sequence, in which rips appear in pages of my book and the shredded remains crawl away, out of shot. Like the burning page, we see this more than once: forwards and backwards. Creation mirrors destruction. 

At several points in the film, the viewer is presented with brief close-ups of bits of text, including random fragments visible on torn, scrunched-up pages. Looking becomes reading, or perhaps writing: the shots are so fleeting that the viewer is forced to select words and phrases to read, and in that act of selection, the viewer/reader writes the film’s meaning. When I write or make pictures, I never set out to determine meaning; that is for the reader to decide, through a creative act of interpretation. In making mirror | writing, my sole intention was to play with some objects that fascinated me, toying with reflections and echoes. I had no final destination in mind. The viewer looks in the mirror. The viewer writes.

The film was made using a smartphone and a tablet, commonplace possessions. We are all photographers, writers, artists, film makers now. As Isidore Ducasse said, “Poetry should be made by all.”

Dinner for One

I am pleased to announce that, after a hiatus of several months, the short film Dinner for One is back on YouTube.

I made the film a few years ago with a couple of exceedingly talented people, but we ran into some copyright problems with the soundtrack soon after it was uploaded to YouTube.

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So I approached Adam Wimbush, who composed some terrifying music for the Bird King last year, and asked if I could use a section of his piece Realms as the soundtrack to Dinner for One. He agreed, and when I added his music to the film it was as if he’d written it especially for our horrible little piece.

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I’ll say no more. You can see the film here and enjoy the combination of sound and image yourself.

I’m the one in the suit, by the way.