exploring art and writing

Art and Film: Directing My Practice.

In Film and Documentary, Fine Arts, New Media on May 11, 2010 at 7:33 am

Following is a brief list of artworks and feature films that have dominated my research throughout my third year in Media Arts and Performance. When I now consider some of them in relation to my practice they seem like very distant memories indeed, but each one has allowed me to develop my work in one way or another. Sometimes the focus is on an artist or a directors entire body of work, sometimes only one film or one piece of art; either way the selection that has attracted me over the past year (and long before this year as well) flits from one polarity to the other quite often. These polarities are, firstly: cinema verite or videos conveying mostly undirected subjects, obvious examples being the American Maysles Brothers and British ‘YBA’ artist Gillian Wearing; secondly there is the more symbolic and deliberate approach to film-making, one where the director is omniscient and omnipotent. Think David Lynch or Ingmar Bergman. The latter approach doesn’t directly resemble the majority of my videos at first glance, although there are certain relevant themes that not only penetrate my work but also have done so for years; themes of home and intimacy, being close to people in their personal spaces or in my own and observing their habits (these ideas have been discussed particularly in my directly previous blogs). This led to the idea of the recital which, since last term, has not left my work as its predominant subject. When writing my dissertation I discovered Paul Virilio’s concept of picnolepsia, and despite not appreciating his body of prose as a whole I have begun to view people’s particular ‘unconscious’ habits – when contained within a recital – as being the focal point of my work. Facial expressions are the most obvious example of this. My video Emily is probably the most successful piece of work for expressing this, although previous videos that encapsulate these themes are Manipulation, Nintendo Night and the Recital videos.

There are multiple artworks and films that I have experienced throughout the last 12 months but have not gone into greater depth here; instead this is a list of artists, filmmakers and their works that have directly influenced my own videos. There are also artists whose videos I have not been able to access (for instance Jayne Parker, although fortunately more of her films are available than unavailable). Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in my opinion is the most wonderful film I have watched all year; Marcia Farquhar’s 12 Shooters at Chapter Arts Centre was to me the most interesting performance/video screening I have recently seen; Warhols’ Sleep; the paintings of Egon Schiele and Lucian Freud; but intuitively I perceive these as separate from my own artwork. And so for the sake of simplicity and clarity I have made exclusions from the list in order to focus on works that I have experienced firsthand and that have allowed me to gain more insight into my project.

I am hoping that by recounting the way in which I have been influenced by the works below, I will reveal to both myself and the viewer how my work has developed in the direction that it has; how my aim is to make work that intimately scrutinizes human beings, but also how this stems from and is representative of my own personal longing for a groundedness that is only attainable through others.

So, in no particular order…

Jun Ichikawa – Tony Takitani.

Still from Jun Ichikawa's 'Tony Takitani' 2004

Tony Takitani seems to be the appropriate film to start with; it is the first thing I wrote about in the first sketchbook of my third year. Whilst I don’t want to repeat myself unnecessarily I can run down the major points that attracted me to the film.

The first is isolation, the second is time and the third is technical.

The protagonists isolation is frustrating. In the original short story by Haruki Murakami Tony begins in this isolation, he briefly evades the loneliness when he meets his wife, and then he withdraws back inside it like a tortoise into its shell when she dies. The one difference between the prose and the film, however, is that Ichikawa offers us a glimpse of hope for Tony at the end; such is the way with films. Murakami is not so generous with the optimism.

What appeals to me most about this film functions mostly at a personal level; we see a man whose loneliness has been redeemed through another human being and through it he gains a life and a home, only to have it violated by an unprecedented disaster. There is a moment – the moment when Tony’s wife’s fate is sealed – where we see a glass smashing against a black backdrop, seemingly out of context; Ichikawa’s creation of this loneliness and its symbolic depiction are more akin to Bergman than any other director that I have seen.

In regards to time, the passage that I have highlighted in my sketchbook is referring to the layering of music and sounds in the first ten minutes of the film and how this relates to the ‘time’ within it:

“Shazaburo’s jazz band, Sakamoto’s piano and the street sounds are at one point simultaneous – it creates an eerie disorientation and a sense of a stretch of time amassing in the past and being explained only in a few moments; our minds are never really monofocused. This layering, to me, is time” (page 1 of sketchbook).

This layering of sound in order to narrate and encapsulate a span of time was extremely appealing to me. The closest I have probably come to attempting it is in Manipulation, although this was more directly influenced by Lynch.

The technical point seeps into the first two about isolation and time. Throughout the film the camera is constantly moving in a linear journey parallel to the ground; everything is slow and the colours are muted; everything is dreamlike, perhaps to express the transiency of his relationship with his wife, or perhaps the transiency of his own life. You emerge from watching the film as if you have been dreaming yourself.

Whilst Ichikawa’s interpretation of Tony Takitani is dreamlike in atmosphere and structure, there is a realism to the story that is quite unusual for Murakami; the majority of his other books and short stories read more like a David Lynch film. Whilst the film doesn’t appear to have directly influenced my videos in a blatant way, however, it’s beauty and the slow understatement of its emotive drive are absolutely engrossing. I have watched Toni Takitani more than any other film I own.

Andrei Tarkovsky – Stalker.

Still from Andrei Tarkovsky's 'Stalker' 1979

This film was a major influence in my site-specific project during the second year. Then it was an inspiration in terms of place and atmosphere; in this project it has been one particular scene that drew my attention: the ‘mine cart scene’, as I like to refer to it.

What struck me about the scene is how gripping I found it despite not much really occurring. It lasts around four minutes and is 33 minutes into the first disc. Again, I don’t want to repeat myself as I have talked extensively about it in my sketchbook, but it contains within it specific characteristics that led me to make my video A to B. They were:

– The realisation that movement, prompting an ever changing background, can render a video much more visually appealing, especially if the subject in the foreground is stationary. This may not be an aspect I follow in my work now, but certainly for a while I was drawn towards filming on moving vehicles.

– That the back of the human head or a persons side-profile can be just as interesting as the face in full. The latter two eventually became the focal point of my video The Recital. I was also drawn towards the segregation of the human head so that we only see it against the constantly moving backdrop of scenery. This seeming lack of a body draws all emphasis towards facial habits and idiosyncrasies; it allows an intimacy that is usually diluted through our body language as a whole. Allowing a person to only observe the face concentrates every feeling and emotion that the subject is experiencing into that area.

– The fact that observing people observing can be fascinating in itself.

– That sound and rhythm are imperative to how a scene is experienced. Tarkovsky’s sci-fi-like sound effects and the heavy, steady rhythm of the mine cart change the three protagonists’ journey towards The Zone into a sinister and suggestive one. It manipulates your perception of the place they are traveling to. I followed this point not so much in A to B, but more so in the later Manipulation.

Whilst I have watched various other films by Tarkovsky, Stalker remains the only one that has struck a particular chord with me in terms of my work, as well as for reasons on various other personal levels. The uncanniness of the film was reminisced far more in my site specific project based in Bute Park; at the beginning of my current project it led to the filming on Cardiff City Sightseeing Bus and therefore to my first close observation of the human face. It could also be seen, because of my subjects intent observation of their surroundings, as leading to the first video where I toyed with the idea of the picnoleptic.

Ingmar Bergman – Persona.

Ingmar Bergman's 'Persona' 1966

After viewing this film for the first time I was convinced that I hated it, for various reasons. Despite this I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I watched it again.

Whilst Bergman’s level of expertise and symbolism is highly admirable, Persona is many fathoms away, both in content and in context, from my own work. What has stuck me throughout the last year about the film, however, are the compositions Bergman creates between Elizabet and the nurse. The scene I find myself consistently referring to is the double monologue towards the end of the film, where we hear the same story told by the same person twice; with each recounting Bergman offers us a different viewpoint, one of each woman. I wrote about this in slightly more detail in my extended artist statement. The repetitive aspect of this scene is echoed in my videos Manipulation and Emily.

Despite Bergman’s symbolic deliberation, one other feature of Persona that I attached myself to was his inclusion of the camera both at the beginning and end of the film. I interpreted this as the directors method of embracing the fiction of the story, whilst using its content to confront topics that are not fictional but are in fact ever-present in the Western world; the term ‘existential homelessness’ springs to mind.

I directly addressed the idea of the persona in relation to the mask for my video Crazy. However, I found Crazy more painful to watch than Persona and far less helpful. Other than that, when I think of this film I think of faces, of close-ups, intimacy and repetition regardless of boredom. For these reasons I have grown to be very fond of Persona.

Gillian Wearing.

'Secrets and Lies' 2009

I’d like to find out as many facets as possible about people. I’m interested in people more than I am in myself, maybe that’s what it is” (Wearing in interview with Ben Judd).

“You have to be careful with the word, real…What is the truth? I believe that all you can say is what you prefer or what you like, because the camera lies” (in interview with Grady Turner, 1998).

Again, I don’t want to overdo the talk on Gillian Wearing as I’ve gone into detail before (see Artist Statement linked above).

When I saw Secrets and Lies at the Rodin Museum in Paris what first struck me was the intimacy of the confessions being told by the participants. However, to procure this intimacy Wearing has masked them for obvious reasons (I doubt she would have found any participants if the masks hadn’t been part of the project). There is something interesting in the fact that to obtain a personal closeness a disguise must be worn. In my Dream blog about masks I discussed their ability, via disguise and deception, to allow a person to reveal something that is actually more true than their everyday persona generally allows; this is what I tried, unsuccessfully, to portray in Crazy. Perhaps a more appropriate but less literal parallel between her videos and mine is my filming of those around me; by constantly portraying people I am intimate with but never myself I am using the camera as a kind of mask – Nintendo Night is probably the best example of this. Emily, in a way, was a mask between myself and my home, a deception I created by merely placing her within my personal context and displaying it as her own.

Wearing appeals to me on quite a fundamental level; the way she seems to perceive her work and the world in general fit alongside my own. In the Serpentine’s 1997 publication on the artist, Lisa Cornin describes her and her work in many ways that, when I read the text, made everything seem to click into place. It expresses Wearing’s constant aim to earn the trust of the participants in her videos; she believes that “the camera cannot capture truth and her work rejects the alleged partiality of documentary film”, an issue I strongly comply with, particularly since reading texts regarding the Cinema Verite movement (see Grey Gardens blog). She claims in the featured interview with Carl Freedman that “I thought what I had to say was pretty limited and I could learn from listening to and observing other people”, which is basically how I began my mock ‘manifesto‘ for myself, and she considers her use of masks as an attempt to illuminate people beyond surface level. Whilst I’ve dropped the mask idea that I was pursuing with Crazy, I think the drive behind that project had long before infiltrated my other videos; the lip-synching she used in 10-16 was echoed in my video Manipulation, both pieces using mime to mask emotional issues. In general I may not have used literal masks in my video, but by honing in on and scrutinizing the face I think I was searching for something beyond a persons ‘normal’ demeanor. Perhaps this is why I am always fascinated with the picnoleptic, with the daydreamer, because they are less aware of themselves and therefore there is more ‘truth’ to be discovered.

This still doesn’t mean that I believe the camera can capture anything close to a ‘truth’. It is all just simulation; soon I should be able to upload my dissertation, which will explain these themes in more detail.

Going back to Wearing, Freedman ends the interview with her by asking: “Do you think you speak through the people in your work? Could you say they become your masks?”. Wearing responds by saying that she searches for people who are not necessarily reminders of herself but of people and situations she has known, as well as people who show less restraint than herself. If someone were to ask me that question, I think my answer would be very similar, but I would still refer to such an approach as a mask.

Patrice Leconte.

This French short from 1992 shows drummer Jacques Villeret performing Maurice Ravel’s Bolero with an orchestra. The focus is on his facial expression as he becomes more and more frustrated with the repetitive nature of the music (I read in Oliver Sacks Musicophilia that it has been suggested that Ravel had Pick’s Disease, which would perhaps explain this characteristic of his music). Although I was constantly pondering over the film at the beginning of last year, it wasn’t until I had made my video Emily that I began to reconsider its influence over my work, which in itself is obvious: a performing musician, classical music, and concentration on a face that is concentrating on something itself.

The humour derives from the unconscious habits and twitches that the drummer is prone to whilst performing, which links in with what I was saying about the picnoleptic in the Gillian Wearing piece above. There is something very honest about watching a person who can’t control themselves and who isn’t aware of themselves in a normal sense. I used to have similar thoughts when I watched jazz band every Wednesday in school; now it seems that my interest in the physical demeanor of the musician – and the music they perform – has come back around full circle.

Anna Best – PHIL.

In all honesty, it isn’t the video installation PHIL that I am referring to here but rather to the video Best made to document the process of constructing it. She asked the majority of an orchestra to perform their part of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Musik in someone’s living room, the ‘someones’ being people with ‘phil’ in their name. This latter method was Best’s way of avoiding certain geographical definitions of art communities in relation to gentrification.

My reasons for being interested in this video are, like Le Batteur du Bolero above, quite obvious. Unlike the previously mentioned piece, however, my interest was heightened by the fact that these people are in a strangers house, an alien environment, yet are performing so as to be scrutinized by the camera (as well as by the various Phil’s and their friends, no doubt). Although I didn’t see this film until quite a while after making Emily I find this relationship between performer and environment intriguing; in fact, if all goes to plan with filming tomorrow I should have similar footage myself!

This is not to say that the final installation is not of interest to me. Best took each video and showed them simultaneously in order to formulate the Mozart piece once more, resulting in a slightly disjointed collective sound. If my plan of filming three singers does by some miracle come together then there is a distinct possibility that I may go down a similar route; not by asking them to perform the same piece of music, but by combining them to make one video, perhaps on three screens.

You can check out Anna Best’s webpage for PHIL here; the video I have been referring to is linked right at the bottom of the PHIL page.

John Cassavetes – Faces.

Still from John Cassavetes 'Faces' 1968

I won’t lie; Faces isn’t one of my favourite films. I didn’t find it that gripping to watch. But something about the way John Cassavetes hones in on peoples faces in this film, how he uses this as a technique to convey moments that are emotionally potent and how this extends our empathy and interest towards the characters is extremely significant for me. It was another piece of work that revealed to me the importance of facial expression and close scrutiny.

In my artists statement for the December assessment I wrote: “Like the sudden and enlightening beauty of the facial close-ups in John Cassavetes Faces, I hone in on and visually segregate physical aspects of people in order to not only try and create a different perception of expression, movement and habit but to gain insight into their state of mind at the time; basically I am attempting to get to know people a little better“.

Cassavetes falls into the Cinema Verite category and whilst I’m led to believe he left a lot of things to chance when filming, I find this approach a bit too conscious for my taste; to reiterate yet again, my interest is directed towards the more picnoleptic, irrepressible type of movement and habit, but this isn’t to say that Faces wasn’t very important to me at the beginning of my third year. I remember considering it often when filming videos such as Cathays Train and Nintendo night.

Tacita Dean – Foley Artist.

I saw this piece at Mark Wallinger’s Russian Linesman exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London. Whilst the installation itself was extremely interesting as a glimpse into unfamiliar (to me) technological machines (a dubbing chart and magnetic recorder), it was the video of the two foley artists Beryl Mortimer and Stan Fiferman and the sounds they were making that interested me. Alongside Lynch’s Eraserhead this piece inspired me to record all sorts of sounds, although more often than not mine were from the domestic environment, and then manipulate them into something wholly different. This was how my video Manipulation came about, a video that introduced me to the difficulties and subtlety of sound production. In order to support the theme of ‘home’ that was intended throughout the video I produced sounds from my bedroom, kitchen and bathroom; transforming these sounds into something sinister symbolised associations reflected by my attitude towards not physically having a home as well as the more existentially homeless aspect of things. It was Dean’s piece that inspired me to embark on such a project.

Gus Van Sant – Elephant.

Alan Clarke – Elephant.

“I remember lying in bed, watching it, thinking, “Stop, Alan, you can’t keep doing this.” And the cumulative effect is that you say, “It’s got to stop. The killing has got to stop.” Instinctively, without an intellectual process, it becomes a gut reaction.” David Leland.

Although I knew that Van Sant’s Elephant was heavily influenced by Clarke’s original film, I was shocked by the structure and content of the latter. I think this had a lot to do with the unique format of the film rather than the violence; as I said in my sketchbook, our generation isn’t affected by onscreen violence in the way that I imagine Clarke intended (an intention that I’m sure was fulfilled in the years following its release.) Despite this initial setback, after viewing the film and then subsequently reading Leland’s quote I could strongly relate to the screenwriter’s comment. What struck me about the way Clarke had constructed the film was the repetition that, although I instigate the same technique to a far less substantial level and on far milder topics, is the backbone of the entire film in that it reinforces the point; it constantly reiterates what Clarke wants the audience to feel towards the issue. Again I am thinking of the repetition of the monologue in Persona and the intensifying horror – the horror of Elizabet’s having to face her own internal mortification’s – that the repetition allows to infect the scene. Clarke’s Elephant possesses the same ability to concentrate the viewer’s horror but in a more direct, immediate and literally horrific way. Because of this Clarke’s Elephant is not a film that you forget. The repetition of content supported for me the success of reiteration in film and video as it allows the audience to focus more on what it is that you want them to see.

Van Sant’s Elephant procured similar, although far milder, reactions in me. The film greatly appealed because of the compositions of the director’s screen shots, particularly when stationary or out of out of focus.

Chen Chien-Jen – Factory and Empire Borders I.

These two films are both currently in Artes Mundi 4 at the National Museum of Wales. Both are heavily political artworks commentating on Taiwanese/mainland Chinese/AIT visa issues, and both challenge the Western American Empire from the perspective of the women who have been refused a visa. What appealed to me about the videos was the way in which Chien-Jen creates the visual and emotional portraits of each individual woman; they are emotionally intimate but deliberately cold and hostile, representing I think their frustration and the hopelessness of their situation. In part two of Empire Borders I he asked actors to recite statements from Chinese mainland spouses about their powerlessness against the empire’s refusal to accept their marriages as genuine. Each recital is accompanied by complete stillness as the other women stand stationary around the speaker, waiting silently as a looming security camera watches them; the repetitive format, like Clarke’s Elephant and the constant repetition of killing, reinforces the horrendous nature of their situation. The silent protest of the workers in Factory is equally cold and yet compelling in its portrayal of the women and the living they were refused, showing the concentration on their faces and the nimbleness of their fingers as they sew. Despite the silence it has the same, still intimacy that is procured through sadness; this sadness is also created through the generic environment that in the case of Factory was necessary but irretrievable once lost, and in the case of Empire Borders I was inevitable and merciless. It is the intimate, repetitive and unflinching portraits of these women that Chien-Jen instigates as a tool for reinforcing the discussed topic as detrimental to the human way of life.

Martin Scorsese – Italianamerican and Raging Bull.

Still from Martin Scorsese's 'Italianamerian' 1974

The final monologue in 'Raging Bull' 1980

Over the last eight or so years I’ve experienced several of Scorsese’s feature films but – with the exception of Taxi Driver – I tended to find them sprawling and too long for my taste. Raging Bull, on the other hand, seemed to me to be the perfect example of a biographic film. Rather than influencing my work (I watched it quite recently and long after making many of my videos) I find that the scene I will go on to discuss reflects not only how I construct many of my videos but also certain themes behind them, primarily the private recital.

Italianamerican is a fantastic film of Scorsese’s parents in New York. It is rambling and following the trend of the verite films, but it has humour and warmth in a way that can only stem from the amusement/embarrassment inflicted upon each generation by their parents. Both this film and Raging Bull relate in my mind to my video Nintendo Night, despite watching both of them long after making it. My videos The Recital and Emily also contain within them resemblances to the latter film.

The film of Scorsese’s parents is an intimate insight into what appears to be quite a tight family unit. I wonder if Scorsese, as well as his obvious desire to reveal the wonderful nature of his parents to the world (and his mothers meatball recipe), was also intending to allow such moments to be made permanent by containing them within the film format, to simulate immortality; from watching it you get the impression that there is great affection between each member of the family. This relates to my statement that video is my attempt at making my experiences with certain people more permanent. The acknowledgment of the film equipment and crew throughout is a nod towards its verite nature, a characteristic that I myself have latched onto in several of my videos; with the appearance of the camera or the microphone (or even myself) here and there, I am attempting to both acknowledge and challenge the manipulation that overrides the ‘truth’ generally thought attainable through documentary, something that I consider impossible (as made evident in several of the Gillian Wearing quotes throughout my research and which I also considered closely in my Grey Gardens blog). Italianamerican is about as ‘honest’ or ‘truthful’ as you can get from the film industry, in my opinion; that said, however, I’m still very aware of the biased slant that filming loved ones can procure, although I don’t consider this a negative thing.

Regarding Raging Bull, there is one scene that I was drawn to due to the poignancy that permeates it through recital and composition. It is the final scene where La Motta recites the speech that Brando performed to his brother Charlie in On The Waterfront. Scorsese sets the scene by showing still shots of La Motta’s dressing room; a lightbulb, a light switch, a telephone, coat hangers in a cupboard, all as De Niro’s character recites the speech to himself in a mirror. This ‘pre-performance’ recital reveals more about the character’s attitude and emotive state more than his on-stage performance ever could, as does his pre-performance shadow-boxing. For this reason I aim to portray the pre-performance rituals that individuals embark upon in their private moments before a performance or during a practice, which not only reveals their state of mind but also allows the audience to have a more absorbing experience. The ‘setting the scene’ by showing still shots of the characters environment, the recital that dissects La Motta’s public mask and the mirror that he gazes into allow the onlooker to question whether by ‘you’ – “it was you Charlie” – he means himself or others in his life, or both. In that one recital, encased in that one small room, Scorsese and De Niro have created such an intimate, private and revealing event. It sums up everything that I want to create and contain within my own videos.

Jayne Parker.

Still from Jayne Parker’s ‘Blues in B Flat’

“[Parker] works with the exterior to produce as essay on the interior.” Anthony Howell, 2000

The best way to express my affinity with Jayne Parker’s films is through the quotes that I have listed below. For those who have seen my work these will probably seem self-explanatory; for those who haven’t then it will probably give you some indication of the nature of my videos, despite our works thematically separating in tangents along the way. The films that have particularly interested me (and it is worth noting that there would be more on the list but several of her videos are unavailable; I feel it would be misleading to claim to have been influenced by works that I have not seen) are Cold Jazz (1993), Blues in B Flat (2000) and The Reunion (1997). The first film’s inclusion of saxophonist Kathy Stobart, the second’s depiction of cellist Anton Lukoszevieze performing Volker Heyn’s title-piece, and the third’s portrayal of renowned dancers Lynn Seymour and Donald MacLeary all portray the human being on a close, intimate scale through recital, as well as honing in on the recital itself as a concept. The following quotes explore this more thoroughly in particular relation to my latest film of cellist Miriam Wakeling, as well as Emily and Rhiannon, the two other videos that make up the Recital Trilogy.

Jayne Parker: Filmworks 1979-2000 (Spacex Gallery, 2000, Exeter).

Essay 1: The Artist as Filmmaker by A. L. Rees:

Page 10: “[The phase late-structural film and the growing numbers of women video artists] was literally a turn towards the interior. Domestic space, windows and corners, ordinary objects transformed by the camera, rose to the surface and the screen. It is true that many more straightforwardly structural films of the early seventies were shot in the filmmakers home…For a filmmaker to shoot in such spaces at all was…an assertion of personal meaning.”

This quote especially reflects my attitude towards my video Emily. Whilst filming and editing it I was focused only on its construction; in retrospect, however, the filming of it in my own home imbued it with personal meaning for myself in terms of intimate human relationships and through the concept of the lost or empty home. By filming Emily in my house – with my possessions in shot, my family pictures on the wall and most significantly with her getting ready in my parents bedroom – I was indicating it as her own. This was both a reference to its emptiness gaining substantial presence from her being there and from her performance, as well as to my own longing to fill the emptiness and make this ‘fullness’ more permanent, something that I had unknowingly explored in videos such as Nintendo Night. Since then and also like Parker, my videos have become very much more about the musician and the music that they are performing, hence the move into institutional environments; my second attempt to document a performer in my home (this time here in Cardiff) was not half as successful as Emily, a factor which no doubt prompted this change in direction. The issues relating to this are more thoroughly discussed in my blog Molly.

Page 12: (Referring to Parker and Russian-born Maya Deren): “Their affirmation of subjectivity goes hand-in-hand with their respect for the photographic realism of the camera-eye and it’s assertion of visual fact. For both these filmmakers, the task of editing is to shape this reality-effect and to create new forms in time.”

This quote is extremely useful in allowing me to make clear my attitude towards and my relationship with the camera, as well as the formation of human relationships that are possible to build through it. The “photographic realism” is definitely something that appeals to me; my paintings and drawings were always stagnant with a contention that lingered somewhere inbetween realism and abstraction as my progression through art education repeatedly told me to ‘loosen up’; once eventually allowing myself to do this I was extremely dissatisfied. Video, I have discovered, possesses all the qualities that I crave for my own construction of an artwork; it can be quick and unpredictable but precise  and strictly formed simultaneously. However, I do not necessarily consider the image I see on the screen as fact; it is, as Baudrillard claimed, only a simulation, with a different type of colour, sound and presence to our physical reality as we know it. It may be a certain type of reality but its inherent nature is based in simulation and therefore repetition, and consequently it is impossible not to manipulate; this is partially why I have embraced the process of repeating the participants performances from a highly manipulated angle. So Rees’s comment about shaping reality “to create new forms in time” fits neatly in with my perception of video and how it is constructed (although not how it is necessarily perceived by the audience).

Page 14: (referring to Parker’s more performance -art-based videos): “…stark literalism haunts them all. Several are shot in very tight and particular spaces, and in some the shots are held for a relatviely long period to further imply a sense of duration…there are also brief point-of-view shots to implicate the viewer in the action, as well as long-takes which hold the spectator at a distance.”

This quote is making reference to her film K., which despite not being one of the videos that grabbed my interest does not prevent Rees’s quote from being relevant to my work, in particular my Recital Trilogy (Emily, Rhiannon and Miriam). My ‘point-of-view’ shots are indeed intended to “implicate the viewer in the action” by following the music with more empathy; when I edit the manipulated repetition (as I am calling this part of my Recital videos) I am attempting to somehow create a rhythm that reflects the music in the hope that the audience will gain more from the experience of both watching and hearing the performances. Previous to these sections in the videos is the long shot, where I only film the performers face; this is intended to portray all the tiny idiosyncrasies of expression that an audience might otherwise not get to see, therefore (hopefully) giving the video a high level of intimacy.

Rees then goes on to say: “But this literalism…is not linear…A film nearly always has a sense of moving forward in time, and therefore of progressing towards closure. Parker subtly disrupts the internal linear time-code by timeshifting or phrasing her images”, a technique I have attempted to employ myself through the repetition of the same audio performance, mixed with the original visual footage combined with several various other viewpoints. My intention, although not imperative for the audience to consider, is the irony this presents the viewer with when considering the ‘object’ as a video projection, because rather than “moving forward in time”  – a characteristic associated with more traditional narrative forms of film and which is in fact a complete illusion – we are experiencing a repetition and a simulation just by watching the video at all. The manipulated repetition of the same performance directly after the first challenges the concept that films ‘move forward’ time-wise as it is repeating a repetition, simulating a simulation, and its footage is not chronological but combined (and therefore highly fictitious). Despite this secondary complexity, however, the repetition is intended to offer the viewer a second chance to consider the performer and the the music they are capable of constructing. So paradoxically this deception of the manipulation of footage is intended to create a more thorough, in-depth experience of the person/performance that they are watching.

Rees refers to Stobart’s presence and performance in Cold Jazz as being “about ‘getting started’ and therefore about the act of creating art. Concept and conception overlap.” Rees then goes on to claim that Stobart through her jazz recital is ‘getting something out’ in comparison to Parker, who is repeatedly performing the actions of opening and eating oysters and who is “taking something in, ingesting”. My Recital Trilogy videos relate closely to the idea of ‘getting started’ and ‘getting something out’ in order to make art; I am an art student documenting other artists. Their creation through the performance of their art is an event that permits their personal expression, making it perfect for me to observe and then, like Parker with the oysters, to ingest in my own way. I am documenting and scrutinizing their “personae and styles” as Rees refers to it, elements that inevitably emanate from performers and the pieces they perform. My closing in of the camera lens on them is portraying my intention to magnify this.

Essay 2: Poetry As Film by Anthony Howell.

Page 33: (Referring to ‘radical film’): “each line, each action framed, is something to be read…The essences of being which constitute the lines or the images are there to be read in the sense that they may be interpreted while present before our eyes – for as we see them we invent their subtext, or explain them to ourselves. And thus they are readable in the sense that a picture is readable – and remain, even after we’re nudged on.”

I have singled the above quote out because of my desire for the audience to feel as if they have freedom in deciphering the concepts behind my work; I want them to take my videos in any which way suits each individual. The notion is simple but I find it imperative that I do not force concepts upon my audience, something which I think Jayne Parker is successful with due to the ambiguity of her films (however Freudian people want to get with their interpretation of them). When I say this I do not mean that I want the audience to perceive no meaning at all from my work; quite the opposite. I admit that I ask for their concentration by showing my work in a staged, cinema-like theatre setting that prevents the audience from coming and going, as well as by repeating the main performance in each video twice. My hope is that this demand of mine will succeed in more people being open to the contemplation of what my Recital Trilogy videos consists of in conceptual, sonic and visual sense. The repetition will I hope allow them to build their consideration of the performer as the multiple viewpoints of the on-screen performance unfold.

Page 38: “It’s an intimacy which the films lift open through sustained close-ups and the use of real time to show action. We get to experience these actions in a palpable way, to share the emotions they generate, or rather as we guess them to be from their effect on the features…perhaps it concerns the particular intimacy of watching a musician play, since the musician may be unconscious of the visual aspect of playing.”

Page 39: “this is a conscious dream, and the film focuses on the natural incidentals of playing, the pressure of the cheeks, the little winces and twitches – it’s a visual melody, a facial dance, providing an accompaniment to the tune.”

This quote and the one above it both nod to French theorist Paul Virilio’s concept of picnolepsia, a concept I discovered whilst researching for my dissertation and a concept better expressed by Timothy Allen Jackson in his essay Towards a New Media Aesthetic. The picnoleptic is the person who is concentrating wholly on another ‘reality’, computer games for instance. After watching Tarkovsky’s Stalker and the mine-cart scene I became fascinated with observing the observer, the picnoleptic, hence my first video of the academic year A to B; after going on to make Nintendo Night I realised that the concentration I was capturing on my subjects faces was the gateway that allowed me to really hone in on their ‘interior’, as the opening quote says; my housemates utter involvement in the Nintendo DS preventing her usual camera-shy self from even acknowledging my presence for a while was indicative of this. Then I watched John Cassavetes Faces and began to focus mainly on close-ups. My work, however, changed from recording the picnolpetic to the recitor in an attempt to reveal people’s facial and ideosynratic reactions to their relationship with the camera (and the relationship that myself and them consequently built through this). I wasn’t satisfied with videos such as The Recital, however; there seemed to be a lack of close, genuine intimacy. And then I filmed Emily and discovered what to me is the perfect blend of picnolepsia and recital that allows a person to document something extremely intimate, which led to my filming of Molly, Rhiannon, Miriam and Iain.

Essay 3: Man/Cello by Joan Key.

Page 43: “Parker’s project of filming the cellist as if to analyse his actions, with his instrument, to see how music is made.”

“Listening is a physiological response that has its own rhythms…Looking also has rhythms and absorptions.”

Page 44: “Insisting on the visibility of performance, the films screen an ‘accumulation of secretive acts’.”

Page 45: “Music exists in parallel to the imagery of Parker’s films and cannot be subsumed into the film as a soundtrack.”

Page 48: “Imposing her ‘edit points’ to optical rhythms and sensations, [Parker] ‘organises the work out of itself’ and into the visual references that remain embedded in music.”

Page 54: “For Parker it is not just important that this transitional possibility of musician-instrument-music is felt as a trace of contact, but that their fusion is a visual sensation.”

Key’s essay approaches specific works of Parker’s from a more music-orientated angle. What I cannot ignore in my trilogy is the importance of the pieces that each musician performed for my videos; Emily’s piece being Ryo Noda’s Improvisation I for Sax Alto, Rhiannon’s being Nocturne by Samuel Barber and Miriam’s George Crumb’s sonata for solo cello, movement 1, entitled Fantasia. I would hope that the intense documenting that I put each performer under relates to the music as well as to the person. I suppose they could be perceived as one and the same thing for the duration of the performance. The manipulated repetition of each performance is also intended to allow the audience to reconsider the performance and so of course the music itself; hearing it twice allows a more thorough experience of it, whilst the intention behind my method of editing is to complement the rhythm and feel of the each piece of music just as the close-ups are intended to further the intimacy that I am aiming for.

As for the “secretive acts” that Key’s refers to, I interpret these as being the small, subtle, physical inclinations that we so often miss because we do not possess any opportunity to see them, with the exception perhaps of our partners and loved ones. The way a musician moves their mouth and nose during a performance, for instance, or the way they stamp their foot or flick their arm. This in turn reveals something about their state of mind – exterior to interior once again – and their engagement with the music. In the same way that I black out the screen during Emily, Rhiannon and Miriam – to allow the audience to pay attention to and synchronize their breathing with the sounds that the musician is making – so too do I try and reveal something of their mindset and involvement with the music by going beyond the normal audience/performer proximity associated with classical music recitals. To consider the idea of a ‘secretive act’ on a more playful level, I suppose in a way my documenting of the practice/warm up for each person is an attempt to involve the audience more in the ‘secret’ practice of music, as well as the qualities of the instrument, be it saxophone, cello or voice; it is also the part of music that generally people are unfamiliar with. Once again I hope that the inclusion of this sets the scene for a more intimate video between the audience, the musicians and the music.

Key’s goes on to claim that “appearance also has to do with how the performer manages a scenario for their own presence that will make it possible for performance to take place…This scenario could be the assumption…of a persona, but it could also be a fiction of non-presence: a feeling that one’s own presence is superceded by the work or the instrument or the framework of the event.” So the people I am filming could either be wholly implicated in their picnolepsy – in the ‘other reality’ of their music – or they could, whilst concentrating, be acting in a more theatrical sense. Neither direction is more valid than the other; everything documented is a record of the performer and their relationship with the music; either way the small idiosyncrasies, habits and physical features will be there if observed closely enough.

Rees, Howell and Key’s essays have between them surmised almost every reason behind my drive to work in the way that I do, and they have helped me come to recognise and interpret my work in a way that denotes meaning towards both the performers and their music. Jayne Parker’s films have come to be very significant to myself, even more so I think because of watching them midway through my project (the right time to inspire without preventing me from starting). My frustration lies in the fact that there are films of hers that I feel I must watch but cannot; but perhaps that’s better for now.

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.

'The Muriel Lake Incident' 1999

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s exhibition The House of Books Has No Windows was probably the first all-new-media exhibition that I ever experienced and, as with many of those who experienced it with me, it has had a lasting impact. Whilst my work does not directly resemble theirs there are certain features from individual pieces that have been ingrained in my mind and so must have had a small role in how I approach some of my work; the intimacy in Road Trip, for instance, which in some ways I tried to recreate in my video Manipulation (dark and small room, smaller screen, projection).

The main influence that the exhibition had on me was due to my viewing of it coinciding with my then-nascent research into cyborg theory. Whilst Haraway, Baudrillard, Virilio, Jackson etc. are not entirely necessary to the concepts behind my video projects over the last year, my review of their theories in relation to The House of Books has made me intensely aware of the relationship between camera and human. Hence why throughout my research this year I have been constantly considering the relationship that I build between myself and the people I am observing, but more importantly how this is influenced by the camera – how the relationship is built up through the lens. This is where Virilio’s term picnolepsia comes in, meaning in loose terms the daydreamer, a person whose mind is transfixed in another ‘reality’ (computer games being the most common example); observing the concentrating observer is something that I have been interested in since making A to B, my first video of the academic year. This in turn leads to some of the main reasons behind my filming of musicians; as their mind is in another ‘reality’, the reality of concentration required to drive a piece of music, I am able to scrutinize them to a level that a person who was more conscious of their immediate environment and situation would be more wary of. In this way I hope that the videos I make contain a high level of intimacy.

For a more in depth analysis of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s exhibition The House of Books Has No Windows see my previous essay from January here.

Alfred  Hitchcock.

Still from Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rear Window' 1954

I’ve watched many of Hitchcock’s films throughout the year, my favourite ones being Rear Window and Rope. My videos are a world apart from his films but there are certain aspects of his film-making that strongly appeal to me; the most clarity I’ve expressed on this topic was in a sketchbook from December when I wrote:

Hitchcock, I am discovering, is a master of making everything count and of making everything mean something. I’m still not preoccupied with the desire to create tension, which is why I lean towards the more verite side of film and video…However, the voyeur theme in Rear Window has similarities to my own despite avoiding voyeur tactics myself; what counts for me are people and the observation of them on an intimate scale, something that is executed in Rear Window to a high degree. What surprised me most, and I can’t believe this actually surprised me, is that this has always been what my work was about. My A level dissertation, my foundation dissertation: both were about searching for the ‘truth’ regarding human beings; my paintings were facial portraits and then when I left painting behind it became about portraying the general public. Then when I started video it became about people and their experience of a place. My site specific project actually ended up with me filming my friends in a very similar way to my method in The Recital – perhaps if I’d scrutinized my work a bit more things would have started to dawn sooner!

Rear Window is important to me for many reasons now. Although completely different in every other respect, it reminded me of Lynch’s Eraserhead in that there was throughout most of the film a constant bombardment of noise that made the silences, when used by Hitchcock, even more tense. At the opposite end of the spectrum the calm, quiet scenes were just as effective; the scene that caught my attention more than any other was about thirty minutes in when Jeff is watching his neighbour throughout the night. As I watched it I thought of Anderson’s World of Glory and how in both films we are seeing an immovable person progress through a seemingly calm passage of time, in one case emotionally and in the other physically (although according to William Bayer Jeff’s broken leg is supposedly intended as a metaphor for his emotional state of mind); observation of the banal but observation that is somehow significant. It is this close observation, this scrutiny, that appeals to me about Rear Window.

Maysles Brothers – Grey Gardens.

Still from the Maysles 'Grey Gardens' 1975

For a more in-depth analysis of Grey Gardens see my Grey Truths blog here.

Grey Gardens is such a brilliant, intimate film, but I’m keen to question the construction and format in terms of manipulation vs. truth. ‘Truth’ isn’t intended to sound naive; rather ‘manipulation’ is a factor that prevents a genuine reality that I suppose could be referred to as truth. Either way my research into the film, in particular Alan Rosenthal’s interview with co-director/editor Ellen Hovde, has made me dubious towards the Maysles’ direction of what to include and what to cut from the footage in order to make it watchable. This has done nothing but make me wary of the claims of cinema verite but I understand completely the desire to not bore your audience, and if your subjects – in the Maysles’ case the infamous Beales – don’t have a problem then neither do I. I just try to remain wary that, as Gillian wearing so often says, the camera lies.

My intense interest in the film stems from the relationship that is built up between the two women and the film crew, all of whom seem to grow quite fond of one another. I wonder if they spoke to each other without a camera placed between them; for some reason I can’t imagine it. The ‘revelation’ that is the Beales and their bizarre life, however, is ironically emphasized through their eccentric performances as they pander to the camera, Little Edie in particular. The idea of revealing some kind of ‘truth’ (a concept I was chasing before realising the hopelessness of such a task) was I think reflected in the recital videos I made in the Autumn term. The Recital was my attempt at drawing out and revealing to the audience various people’s personalities and idiosyncrasies; filming them on the spot and asking them to recite anything they could think of from memory was (I thought) a step towards the depths of each persons individual inclinations. It was also a document of their attitude towards the camera and the relationship between myself and them with the lens as mediator, themes that I associate strongly with Grey Gardens.

Phillipa Robinson: Wonderland documentary series – Britain in Bed.

Wonderland: 'Britain in Bed'

This quiet documentary took me by surprise. I had no idea what it was about but within two minutes I was drawn into the intimate world of the general British public laying in their beds whilst discussing their relationship alongside their spouse. It’s worth mentioning in my independent study because, like Grey Gardens, it promotes a situation that the viewer is unfamiliar with; the method of asking interviewees to lie in bed is casual and yet strangely formal all at once but it seemed to procure honesty in the couples that were interviewed. It made me consider even more closely my methods of documenting a person and how intimate you can be with them; the time of day, the physical proximity of the camera, my own presence being involved or silent: all dramatically affect the consistency of the video being produced. Two works that may express both sides of this well are Nintendo Night and The Recital.

Stuart Croft – Century City.

Still from Stuart Croft's 'Century City' 2006

I saw Croft’s Century City at G39’s The Infernal Machine exhibition. Whilst the content and production is fathoms away from my own work (Croft makes use of actors and fictitious storylines) it was one of the inspirations for the double screen I used in my video The Recital. In his case the double screen allowed the audience to view a conversation that took place between two people who were oceans apart, one being a South African detective and the other an American film director. The frustration that exhumes from the fictitious situation and this distance that prevents resolve, despite the detectives calm demeanor, is reflected in the looped repetition of the video. It prevents the audience from gaining any conclusion from the typical murder plot that Croft has presented us with. This in turn inspired me to loop my video Manipulation on order to represent the frustration that I intended the piece to embody.

Elia Kazan – On the Waterfront.

I’ve written about this in my first sketchbook and so will try not to repeat myself too much here. On the Waterfront became prominent in my independent study in the Autumn term because of one particular scene. It’s about an hour in and I refer to it as Brando’s ‘confession scene’; you can’t hear a word either of them are saying, you can only hear the sounds of the dockyard. For the film this massively raises the tension, especially with the shrill obtrusiveness of the audio, but it also allows the viewer to understand the emotion of the characters through their faces alone. This is something that appeals to me about watching musicians; you are observing internal emotional events through their faces only, and these ‘events’ are being brought out by the music. In the case of On the Waterfront, the character Edie’s disbelief and horror are ‘brought out’ or symbolized by the previously mentioned audio sounds. It was a scene that alongside Eraserhead inspired my piece Manipulation, where I attempted to use sonic intervention in order to express internal emotions and attitudes towards a specific subject.

David Lynch.

Still from David Lynch's 'Blue Velvet' 1986

For a more in depth interpretation of Lynch’s films and their influence over my attitude towards my work see my previous blogs ‘In Dreams‘ and ‘The Dream: An Alternative Route‘.

My infatuation with the films of David Lynch is more personal in origin than anything else; as my work resembles his films very little or not at all it would be useless to try and blag it by saying they massively influenced my videos. However, because the intensity that I have considered them with is so high I feel I must mention them. His work is not totally irrelevant to my work either; Eraserhead was the direct inspiration for my video Manipulation and I see Stockwell’s ‘In Dreams’ mime scene in Blue Velvet and the ‘Llorando’ scene in Mulholland Drive as closely relating to the theme of recital (again refer to blogs linked above for more detail). All of the previously mentioned films, which are the ones that possess the most relevance for me, contain within them the themes of fear, repression and the persona. In Eraserhead the films sonic dominance is the backbone of the portrayal of these themes and this is what I attempted in Manipulation in order to emphasize my frustration.

In the case of Dean Stockwell’s character Ben miming to Roy Orbison’s ‘In Dreams’ whilst Frank mimes along with him, in many ways this reinforces the idea of the recital as something that a human being can either use as a genuine cathartic tool or as a component that feeds their persona in order to create their mask. What people choose to become attached to, to listen to and to perform is a revealing intimacy both for the performer and the listener, which Lynch explores again in Mulholland Drive with Rebekah del Rio’s performance of Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’ in Spanish. In the latter’s case his use of the song at that moment in the film is significant (as everything is with Lynch) in that it prompts the disintegration of Watts’ character and therefore marks the shifting of reality from glamorous, mysterious Hollywood to a dark, drug-induced world of deception; the whole film could be interpreted as revolving around the difficulties associated with the persona; del Rio’s clown-like make-up during her recital reinforce this, as well as Betty’s surprising and masterful recitation of the screenplay she performs for her audition; in some ways I associate this with my video Recitals and The Recital, although they are completely lacking in the dramatic fiction that Lynch instigates so well.

Lynch’s use of the recital as a revelation of what lies beneath has always appealed to me; my abandoned project Crazy was left behind precisely because of this reason. As I have only learned to recognize and deflect my own long-standing anxieties recently, the mime approach that I was using was currently too direct and raw. This reflects my prime reasons for filming other people as well as my need to make my experience with people more permanent (and therefore stable), which in turn challenges my anxiety and forms a relatively cathartic process. I don’t think I would have realized this if it weren’t for David Lynch.

Beautiful Agony.

I never thought that I would include pornography in my independent study simply because the nature of my work doesn’t appear to directly relate to it, but then I never thought that there would be porn like the videos on Beautiful Agony. The entire website is just headshots of people masturbating and having orgasms – and what could be more intimate and idiosyncratic than that? Beautiful indeed, if merely for the fact that we never scrutinize the face alone as a person temporarily abandons their own inhibitions to leave general reality behind for a while. The participants on this site are the ultimate picnoleptics.

Bill Viola – Reflecting Pool.

Still from Viola's 'Reflecting Pool' 1977-79

I’m including Bill Viola’s Reflecting Pool in my independent study because I consider it the original catalyst of my video work; when I showed my first ever video in the Tuesday show (a then-terrifying experience) this was the artwork that people kept referring to in the crit, and although I hadn’t based my piece on it I have to acknowledge that as I had viewed it a couple of months previously it must have played some part in the construction of my own video. Despite seeming like a very long time ago my work has been more continuous in theme than I first suspected; observing the observer, filming just their faces as they recite thoughts on the site in question; it was a good start for me. I liked him, as well, for saying: “when I make my work, I am making what I hope to be something functional – a space for individual contemplation and reflection”, characteristics that I hope to gain by allowing the audience to view a performer, especially through the repetition of their recital; he also said “I like to keep the meanings in my work flowing and open”, something that I thought I did (or is it do?).

Orson Welles.

Welles' 'F For Fake' 1974

F For Fake is one of the most unusual films that I have ever seen, partially so because it rapidly flits between documentary and fiction whilst bombarding the audience with a mass of visual and vocal stimuli. Welles’ directorial and editing method seems to strongly predetermine the typical structure of today’s fast-paced documentary method. What interested me about the film was Welles’ constant use and questioning of manipulation as instigated by the camera and by film in general, something that I played with in Manipulation by dubbing my own voice over Lucy Thompson’s face as she recited a personal extract of prose that was significant to myself. I have also made strong use of manipulative editing techniques in my Recital Trilogy; by repeating the performers’ recitals from various different viewpoints I am effectively lying to the audience by apparently claiming: ‘here is the performer and here is their performance’, when in fact it is the visuals of many performances merged over one track. This manipulation is intended to allow the audience a different, more intimate visual perspective of a performance, although there is irony in the fact that I am constructing this false depiction in order to somehow portray an intimate and therefore more ‘accurate’ account of the performer. I am still trying to juggle what this implies to my project as a whole; I suppose my filming the same performance as one shot and placing it before the heavily edited version is my own way of presenting two types of observation, one more ‘honest’ than the other, and letting the audience decide for themselves which one is more intimate.

Douglas Gordon.

Still from Gordon's 'Feature Film' 1999

As of yet I haven’t quite identified the relationship between my own work and Gordon’s, because I haven’t directly experienced any of his work before. However, his Zidane: A Twentyfirst Century Portrait and his Feature Film, where he filmed an orchestra playing the score to Hitchcock’s Vertigo, both bear signs of intimacy and both acknowledge the importance of music as part of the art rather than as a background soundtrack. All of the quotes below are taken from his interview with David Sylvester and all of them somehow relate to my feelings towards film, music and picnolepsy. In the Guardian’s review of Gordon’s Zidane film it says “and in this lies what seems to be his deepest personal connection with the film. The performer as artisan, shutting out the noise and concentrating on their work,” an amusing but quite accurate quote if applied to musicians; of course they don’t shut out the ‘noise’, but through their level of concentration they become artists in their own right; in this way Gordon’s opinions on film and art seem to often mirror my own.

“…if you were at art school, you got into a structuralist way of analyzing every fucking thing available. And I realised when I was going to the cinema at the time, I was actually thinking more about things that weren’t on the screen – maybe the position of the camera, the sound engineer, or whatever extraneous aspect of filmmaking…The bottom line was that I just couldn’t enjoy it anymore.”

“The theatricality of cinema is to do with enjoyment, to do with using the physical context in order to get out of another one in a way.”

“[There] is a crucial difference between cinema and other art forms – it’s constantly moving and building. Most people don’t watch movies on their own. When you think about going to a  museum to look at a painting or a sculpture, there are usually other people there, but you usually don’t talk to them and you’re certainly not lying in bed with them. It’s funny that there’s an iconic kind of intimacy around a medium that is commercially so vulgar sometimes.”

(Referring to Ford’s The Searchers): Because nothing happens in the movie, something has to take you from one scene to another and the music does this.”

Sylvester: “what’s the difference between entertainment and art?”
Gordon: “I hope that art, like enjoyment, doesn’t stop. Even the most disturbing art is enjoyable.”

Sylvester: “The artist does not know what he wants to achieve. He goes into the thing with the desire to explore the subject matter and see what happens. So the artist comes out of creating a work knowing more than he did about the subject…”


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