||(with Karen Mirza and Brad Butler). Where a straight line meets a curve is a durational sculpture, of real and imagined activity shot entirely in one room. It is a film concerned with the objective reduction of space, a film about the recording and representation of space and the politics of the viewing space of film itself. Projected onto two adjacent screens, the visual material is constructed so that light and colour form relationships between and across screens continuously, redefining the viewers perception of the space presented through the images. Time is measured out in ways analogous to the coming and going of the everyday, exposing the passing of time to a (continuous) present.
The work questions the usual strategies of the viewer, mediating between the mental image, the dimension of physical space, and the illusionistic space of cinema. The sound is constructed from the speech of the filmakers within the space broken down by a process of re-amplification and re-recording to a point where the resonant frequencies of the space have an equal value to any spoken content. A structure of loops and phase patterns internally resonating both within the filmic space and in parallel with the textual content of the intertitles. Through the framing and re-framing of images and the constructed relationship of sound, text and image, the film creates perspectual shifts and unexpected confrontations that confound our usual way of distinguishing between the actual and the representational.
The often unacknowledged aspiration of the American avant-garde film has been the cinematic reproduction of the human mind. Structural film approaches the condition of meditation and evokes states of consciousness without mediation, that is, with the soul mediation of the camera - P. Adams Sitney. Karen Mirza is an influential figure in artist film and video, known both for her work and her curatorial practice. She has recently been appointed a director of the new LUX organisation, and has been a tutor in film and video at the Royal College of Art for several years.
Her work has been screened at the Tate Modern, Dokument/Art Film Germany, the National Film and Television Theatre ? ‘Other British Cinema’, The LUX centre ‘Monuments and mise en scene’ where it preceded Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’, the Whitechapel gallery and festivals in Australia, Holland and Germany.
Karen recently completed a new body of work, ‘site/non site’ at Goliath visual arts space in New York. And is set to follow this with a site-specific project in Australia 2003. Through her activities as a spokesperson for experimental film, Karen has been asked to present her work at screenings in Paris [Dec] Berlin [Nov] and India [Jan 2003] as well as crating an evening for the London Film Festival. In collaboration with David Cunningham and Brad Butler, Karen is currently launching ‘where a straight line meets a curve’, her second film financed by the Arts Council.
Brad Butler graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Documentary Direction. He also has a first class degree in Anthropology from UCL. His documentaries have been screened on Channel 4 and the BBC, as well as the ICA, NFT, Hedah, Amsterdam. Mute Loops, D-Net, The Lux Centre for Film, Video and Digital Arts. Instit. Francais d’Architectur, Paris. Architecture Film Festival, Rotterdam, BBC British Short Film Festival, London. Experimenta Media Arts, Melbourne, Australia. New British Cinema, Cinema de Balie, Amsterdam, The Tate Gallery, London and multiple festivals across Europe and the US. In September 2000 he won and headlined BBC2’s talent 2000 competition, as well as winning the National Student Television Award in 1998.
Brad has just directed his first feature length documentary in the US entitled ‘`The Tunnel’ to be launched in Dec 2002. Brad is actively linked to the DocHouse initiative in London and is co-curator of the light reading series.
In 1998 Brad Butler and Karen Mirza established no.w.here. Building on their training as film specialists, their vision was to create a cross-disciplinary, multi platform studio for experimental film. no.w.here have grown to become major activists in this area and have recently been asked to manage ‘Artslab’, a not for profit professional studio dedicated to film as a fine art practice. Artslab is set to launch in January 2003 and will be the only lab in the U.K. to offer the filmmaker hands on manipulation of the film negative in post production and will be a central meeting point for Independent filmmakers interested in the preservation of the film form. Where a straight line meets a curve - the musicology:
The soundtrack is based around a vocabulary derived from key works by Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros and Steve Reich.
Three processes - why are some of these viable as music and others only seem to have survived as a historical one-off?
Lucier developed the multiplication of room resonances in his I am sitting in a room (1970). This work is a self-sufficient statement which defines and initiates this process and leaves it to continue indefinitely. It is so conceptually well defined that subsequent use of this technique (particularly involving spoken voice) would appear to be rendered redundant.
The particular circumstance of Where a straight line meets a curve was that all the film was shot in one room. During the filming Karen and Brad initiated a process of recording and replaying sound through the space as an attempt to further explore the physical, filmed and recorded space. Revisions of the spoken and textual content during the construction of the film/installation led me to appropriate this technique and use it in an attempt to bind the the spoken content to the visible space.
This is aside from issues of how difficult it is to work musically with this process. Long durations are a prerequisite and all harmonic movement is predetermined. Without severe disruption to the process this is not a conventionally malleable musical vocabulary which perhaps explains my perception of the vocabulary as a historical one-off.
The multiplication of room resonances in this work was developed through computer modelling of room acoustics, techniques initially developed for testing my installation work. In sections of Where a straight line meets a curve the basic model of the spatial acoustic is multiplied many times, allowing the resonant frequencies to articulate the source material - rather like exaggerating the sound of the space so much that it becomes a bell.
David Cunningham 2003