The last month has been spent researching possible locations for filming and consolidating my ideas for the work in preparation for the group meeting this month on Dartmoor. I have spent two long weekends walking in the park, one around Simonside and one around the College Valley. The second of which gave me a taste of how wild the weather can get in the park. The wind at the summit of Auchope Cairn was quite intimidating and when the mist began to descend I though it was probably time to head back to lower ground.
Below is and extract from my mid project report for Aune Head Arts which details my proposed ideas at this stage.
"I came to the project with a deliberate open mind to the outcomes, determined to let my time in the park shape the work. My own concerns with the biological and psychological body would obviously impact upon the outcomes in some way. Following 3 days of preliminary introductions and tours of the parks landscape by the rangers and park officials I was immediately drawn to the recently initiated Border Heritage Project. Revolving around work with remote communities on both sides of the English / Scottish border, the projects aim is to create a cultural map based on shared memories, history, folklore and cultural identity of the place. Unfortunately, this project is in it very early planning stages, gathering and processing information, making involvement quite difficult within the timescale of Triparks. However, I am very interested in continuing an involvement with the project and hope to have the opportunity to do this.
I also began walking with Bridget in the park - we talked a lot about our practices, our ideas and the preliminary meetings we had both been involved in. Some of the most interesting things that came from these conversations for me involved the contradictions that exist within the park, ideas of wilderness and control, timelessness and change. I was also fascinated with the fact that we walked for almost 6 hours and only saw 2 people, re-emphasising what we had already learned about certain areas of the park being amongst the most remote in England. The feelings of space and isolation walking in the park were amazing; I decided that I wanted to immerse myself in this isolation as a central part of the process. I consulted with the park staff to find some of the most remote areas and have spent a further 9 days in the park walking, being with the landscape. Through this process the work has developed and I am now at the early stages of coordinating the production.
My ideas have developed into 2 proposed outcomes: a video work and a series of digitally manipulated images. Both works deal with the idea of wilderness/control, how the body (or man) and landscape relate to one another and how this relationship could be viewed as an attempt to rationalise, interfere or create structure. Both works will approach this by re-examining and manipulating direct recordings of the park’s landscape.
The video work has developed with additional support from a series of mentoring sessions provided by DigitalCity in Middlesbrough. I have negotiated with DigitalCity to produce the piece for Triparks with the provided mentor Ian Bailey. I have also arranged to use their HD camera equipment through the month of August to shoot the work in the park. The video will incorporate cyclic footage of human gamete, cell division and necrosis integrated into a repeating 360° panoramic shot constructed from various uninterrupted views of the landscape edited together. The human biological elements will be manipulated and integrated into the film in the editing process to reproduce effects such as video interference and damaged film, juxtaposing the clarity of the HD landscape footage. I hope to be able to gather some of the cellular source materials myself and am attempting to negotiate some time in a lab or research environment over the next few months. If this is not possible I will use licensed stock footage. The work will be displayed for tour using a HD plasma/LCD flat screen and Mini Mac. The screen will be housed in a purpose-constructed frame.
The image work will consist of a series of three - five images of the landscape that will undergo a series of manipulations before presentation as large format framed prints to tour. I met with park commissioned photographer Simon Fraser to discuss potential sites for filming and shooting and established a list of sites to visit in the remaining days of the residency. I have been researching digital processes that can be used to replicate natural forms and create fictional, man-made landscapes in virtual worlds. One process I found which is very interesting uses fractals to create virtual landscapes that mimic nature to an incredibly detailed level. I aim to use this process to create a new structure that will be overlaid onto the actual images. I aim to construct these fractal structures using manipulated images of bones excavated in the park and am currently trying to organize some time with park archaeologists."
I have since had a meeting with Andrew Miller, the national park northern area manager and following this have arranged to meet with Chris Jones, the park archaeologist to discuss gathering the images of the human material from the park.