Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A mislaid shoe leads to a funny gate



It is with a mixture of pleasure and some relief that we (Sanderson & Ball) can announce that Film of The Same Name is after over three years now finished. We hope to arrange a preview screening soon.

Film of the Same Name follows Philip Sanderson and Steven Ball as they revisit the haunted landscapes of their 1980s film trilogy Apostrophe S. The film melds the filmmakers' revisiting of the locations of the original films, a workshop re-enactment, and topographic animation, all set to a soundtrack of newly composed songs and music with fragmentary echoes of the earlier films.

With Leigh Milsom and William Fowler reviving the original actors' performances of the ghost of a woman who dies in a car accident, and the ghost hunter who pursues her, the film becomes a cinematic revenant as elusive and intriguing as those it returns to. 

The original Apostrophe S trilogy comprising: A Postcard from Boxley Hill, Green on the Horizon and Hangway Turning which were all shot on Super 8 then edited on video, predates and to some extent predicts the recent vogue for artist films which combine documentary and experimental filmmaking techniques, and the phenomenon that has become known as 'hauntology'.
















Notes:
Title: Film of the Same Name
Length: 34 Mins 24 Secs
Date: 2014
Direction: Sanderson & Ball
Cast: Leigh Milsom as Angela Staples as Judith Langham
William Fowler as Nigel Jacklin as Thomas Cubitt
Sanderson and Ball as themselves
Voice- Overs: Tony Raven, Patricia Hosking, Martin Pickles
Music: Sanderson and Ball
Camerawork: Steven Ball, Martin Pickles
Animation: Philip Sanderson
Shot on location on Blue Bell Hill and Cliffe Marshes, Kent and Central Saint Martins, London.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Green on the BFI


"The haunting qualities of the English countryside are evoked in this enigmatic film: part fake public information film, part occult jaunt." You have been warned! Part of the Apostrophe S trilogy finds its way into the Freewheeling strand of the BFI cycling programme. Available to watch for a mere £1.00 or put it another way less than half the cost of a skinny latte.   

Monday, November 26, 2012

Advice for prospective participants

This is not a game or competition.  There are no fees being paid, deadlines to meet, or scripts to follow.  You are on your own.  The starting point is the mid nineteen-eighties and the films that make up the Apostrophe-S trilogy, your destination Film of the Same Name in the mid two-thousand-and-tens. 

Your participation will take you through a process criss-crossed by indecision, contradiction and contingency; dotted with historical citation, reenactment, projections of new and archival material, disembodied narration, and disconnected dialogue.  There is no reliable plan for this process, a number of distinct sections have been identified, however it appears the relative ordering of these sections changes depending on the approach taken.

Observations on these changing sections are contained in the blog, which you will find at http://filmofthesamename.blogspot.co.uk. This should help you when performing in one section or another.  The blog posts are in no particular order and must be used at your discretion.

This is not a game or competition.  There are no fees being paid, deadlines to meet, or scripts to follow.  You are on your own.  The starting point is the mid nineteen-eighties and the films that make up the Apostrophe-S trilogy, your destination Film of the Same Name in the mid two-thousand-and-tens.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Green on the Horizon theme whistled


recorded in St. Mary's Church, Higham Ferrers
on the edge of Cliffe Marshes
25 January 2011

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

kinematopography

After a year when there have been no updates to the FoTSN blog I had begun to think the project stalled or even abandoned. However when I saw Sanderson and Ball at Limehouse Town Hall for one of their rare live outings as Storm Bugs I was surprised to hear that plans were afoot to rent studio space “and get the project finished”.

There was much talk of texts being read to camera and even designs for a more developed musical element “a concept video” no less. I broached the subject of how the project had developed since we last met, as it was still unclear to me as to whether FoTSN is to be a remake of the original Apostrophe S project or a film about the remaking or possible remakings. Perhaps unsurprisingly the answer “both” came back.

As the evening wore on though I did get a glimpse of some possible structure to the project. Sanderson waived round a copy of Finding your way on land and sea by Harold Gatty. I am familiar with Gatty’s work reprinted in several volumes with similar titles, which essentially offers an insight on how to navigate terrain without map or compass. Gatty draws on techniques used by indigenous people such as using sound, smell, wind direction as a means of orientating oneself.  Gatty’s text is quite sober and practical; keen to dispel any motions of some primitive sixth sense. In doing so it recognizes however that the conception of space as understood or explored by indigenous people may well differ from that in the west.

At the point in the conversation I was able to introduce some of my own recent reading in the area in particular a paper by By Claudio Aporta Inuit orienting: Traveling along familiar horizons. Aporta’s analysis of indigenous people navigate and orientate themselves in space is not fundamentally different from Gatty’s however another dimension is introduced  that of memory and emotional attachment. With the addition of memory and a sense of place that builds on generations of knowledge and travelling cognitive maps “a person’s organized representation of some part of the spatial environment” (Downs and Stea 1977: 6) become memoryscapes.“Quite” said Sanderson, “indeed” said Ball but “we are not making a film about indigenous memoryscapes’ but “rather” interrupted Sanderson excitedly “how media representation of space can create something akin or analogous to an indigenous memorysacpe”. “If” said Ball seriously (or as seriously as he could be after goodness know how many beers) “ media and in this instance the original film of Green on the Horizon act as the fifth dimensional element to create”, “a memorymediascape, a sort of kinematopography” interrupted Sanderson. “A little cumbersome perhaps” said Ball “but essentially yes”.       Marcus Lumen

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kit's Coty/Bluebell Hill ghost hunts reported

Orb (light anomaly) captured at Kit's Coty ghost hunt
"We walked down the road to the Countless Stones (A.K.A) Little Kit’s Coty, after a lot of photo taking, some with a lot of strangeness captured in them we then proceeded to hold a ghost hunt, we started with a séance and a female energy who was called Maud something, the weird thing is she did confirm her name at the name it was like Derridge, but none of us could remember her name after the séance was over." See Ghost Hunt Events for more.

Assignment one

Assignment one, 3,500 words plus bibliography. Due August 1st 2011
Examine the extent to which Green on the Horizon may be considered an early example of a hauntological media manifestation? Discuss in the context of recent hauntology theory and with specific reference to the use of sound and image in the piece.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

T C Lethbridge

Found a copy of Ghost and Ghoul in a secondhand bookshop yesterday. I vaguely recall reading this as part of the original research for Apostrophe S and a reference is included somewhere in the voice over to Hangway Turning. Lethbridge has his 'Sons of T C Lethbridge' admirers though perhaps in Ghost and Ghoul he is less the detective suggested in the introductory blurb and more of a postulator. Far more on Lethbridge here.




Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On Pylons

Sun behind pylon
Striding across the landscape, electricity pylons are one of the most visible features of Cliffe Marshes and therefore Green on the Horizon.   The structures are more prominent than the gates, disused workings, or our destination Cliffe Fort, they are visible in nearly every shot, they find their way into the very fabric of the film, mentioned or implicated in the voice over: "...sun behind pylon...", "...static overhead...", "...electricity in the stream...",  forming a framework for choreographed rolling around movement, and so on...

Their aesthetic appeal is as great aloof public found sculptural objects, literally carrying a great invisible power, aerial ley-lines rooted to the ground and yet unscalable, emitting the low hum of electricity like some gigantic electric aeolian harp.

Pylons come in various designs, the ones populating Cliffe Marshes would appear to be of the L2 and L6 type.

Pylons have become as much a part of the British rural landscape as any ostensibly 'natural' feature. The current electricity pylons, first chosen in 1929, are designed to be strong against high winds and capable of carrying the load and tension of cables. The name 'pylon' comes from their basic shape, an obelisk-like structure which tapers toward the top.

There are plans afoot to redesign pylons, a move that could have the most significant impact on the appearance of the British landscape since the enclosure.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thomas Cubitt

Burham works were established around 1850 by Thomas Cubitt, the Victorian master builder. From 1815 Cubitt was responsible for many large developments in London including Belgravia, Pimlico, much of Bloomsbury and the area around Clapham Common. He also built the east front of Buckingham Palace, and constructed three thousand feet of the Thames Embankment. Outside the capital his work included parts of Brighton and Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Cubitt's success was due to his then revolutionary method of employing vast numbers of craftsmen as a team under his direct control rather than dealing with independent tradesmen. This enabled him to build a reputation for meeting deadlines on time and on budget. Cubitt set up the Burham works towards the end of his life in order to provide a guaranteed supply of good quality bricks.








1. Surely those concrete pillars are marked on the map as 'Limekilns'? I think the chalk was excavated from the pits, brought to the kilns and baked to make cement.

2. The narrow gauge railway I mentioned is marked as 'Tramway'.

3. As for the tunnel, I take it you mean the dashed line. It's a bit too out-of-focus for me to read the lettering but I doubt if there's a tunnel there.

4. Tell what I'll do. I live only two miles from there on Blue Bell Hill, when I have time over the next few days, I'll pop down with both our maps and actually see for myself.




Cited at: 
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=2769.0

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vacant Situations

Sanderson and Ball has two vacancies for the positions of Public Face of the Film of the Same Name project. The successful candidates will be required to stand in for the artists, representing them in all dealings with funding body representatives, the press, clients, corporate sponsors and other externally facing contact scenarios. The successful candidates will have a proven background in rôle-playing including cinematic or dramatic acting or similar experience.

A physical resemblance to the principals is desirable but not essential, however the ability to respond intelligently and creatively in discussion, conversation, during interview and other interrogative conditions is essential, as is the ability to be creative and flexible with factual information.

The positions are currently on a voluntary basis, however Sanderson and Ball can offer generous profit-share arrangements on a commission basis to the successful candidates if sufficient finances are secured for the project.

To apply email your CV to the Film of the Same Name Recruitment Office. Due to lack of administrative resources applications will not be acknowledged and contacted only if required for interview. No other correspondence will be entered into.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Vanishing Hitchhiker



video


Ernest W Baughman's Type- and Motif-Index of the Folk Tales of England and North America (1966) delineates the basic vanishing hitchhiker as follows:
"Ghost of young woman asks for ride in automobile, disappears from closed car without the driver's knowledge, after giving him an address to which she wishes to be taken. The driver asks person at the address about the rider, finds she has been dead for some time. (Often the driver finds that the ghost has made similar attempts to return, usually on the anniversary of death in automobile accident. Often, too, the ghost leaves some item such as a scarf or travelling bag in the car.)"
Cited in Wikipedia

Monday, February 28, 2011

From the unoriginal soundtrack

So we've done the voices (nicely edited on the Revox - "This is not a game - or a competition" etc) added some atmospheric drone (IPS studios), synthetic vibes and real twang guitar (Creekside studios) but you know what it's not quite there  - how about we add some snippets from an easy listening record played at 45rpm and crash edited on a cassette deck. Good plan.....

Friday, February 11, 2011

Buff Cut


A quick and very rough remix of some of the moving footage (see postings below) cut with the disposable camera stills (animated in max/msp/jitter). Above or in QT here: Buff Cut. Note this has been re-upped as somewhat inexplicably the soundtrack stopped working on the previous version.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Cliffe Marshes 25 January 2011 part 1

The Lumen Log - Part 1

Following our recent interview I was asked to accompany PH and PC on a field trip to Higham Marshes, the location for the filming of the original Green on the Horizon. Both PH and PC were intending to document the journey on camera but it was felt useful to have an impartial ‘third man’ to log the proceedings in note form.

We arrived at Higham station at about 11 AM. Upon arrival both PH and PC made use of the Victorian toilet facilities at the station before we set off over the railway bridge, passing through Lower Higham and then up Church Street towards the marshes.



At the top of Church street we turned left past a small cottage which I was assured was once a pub and onto the start of the footpath. The ground was heavily waterlogged from the recent rain and we had walked but a few yards before the path became impassible having turned into a small pond. Alternative routes were sought to the left and the right but here streams were found to block the route. After some deliberation we retreated a short way and entered a field looking for a way round. However after some time spent circumnavigating the field we found our route once again blocked by a stream.



It was felt best to try an alternative path altogether via the church. We retraced our steps through the village, passing a somewhat over excited Alsatian dog whose owner looked on impassively as it barked at us furiously before reaching the level crossing and finally on to the marshes.



We were now not at the beginning of the day’s planned route but rather the end point and so it was felt best to try and rejoin the intended path. We climbed a gate and began traversing a field. Overhead were two sets of impressive pylons and a number of telegraph poles. PH had brought along some stills from Green on the Horizon and attempted to correlate the shots with the landscape before us. Meanwhile PC took out his iPhone which it soon became clear was the only map/navigation device we had.



After some zig-zagging to avoid the more waterlogged parts of the field we found ourselves in the bottom corner close to the original path but with our progress frustrated once again by a stream. This would become a regular pattern throughout the morning, as it would seem that all the fields on the marshes are surrounded by streams or drainage ditches. Each field has one or more gates leading to another similar field. However upon entering the field it is far from clear where the next gate is, if indeed there is one as some fields are effectively islands. On repeated occasions we arrived at the edge of the field within sight of our intended destination but thwarted by yet more water.


This maze like reconnaissance went on for about an hour and a half with much criss-crossing and retracing of steps. We passed through fields of sheep and cattle that looked on bemused at the lack of progress we were making. PH began suggesting that we should perhaps rewind altogether and take the designated footpath. PC ignored this suggestion but began to spend more time peering intently at his iPhone.


By one o’clock we were but yards from the estuary wall but once again we were separated from our goal by a stream. It was felt that lunch was in order and so a short break was taken for sandwiches. After yet more studying of the digital device PC announced that with a slight detour back through a couple of fields we might find the original path. Slightly reluctantly we tramped off expecting another set of maneovers but as luck would have it we did indeed find the path a few moments later. Spirits noticeably lifted; PH got out his mp3 player and from the headphones came the sound of extracts from the original soundtrack to GOTH whilst PH rested his HD camera on a fence post to record a passing container ship as it glided glacially by.

From the estuary wall (also known as the Saxon Shore Way) we could see over to Kings North power station, which was pumping out grey smoke into the already leaden sky. Whilst no doubt environmentally unfriendly it was a pleasing sight. A few yards further on we had an encounter with one of the many Shetland ponies that have now inexplicably taken up residence on the marshes.  PH attempted to feed the pony some tangerine but the rather mournful animal was not the least bit interested letting the fruit fall to the ground.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

from the first visit to Cliffe Marshes in 25 years

the path starts here
there are no reliable maps of the marshes
this changing landscape
sun behind pylons
static, static overhead

Monday, January 17, 2011

a straight line is not always the shortest distance between two points

As previously noted, Guy Debord's psychogeography is very much an urban phenomenon, which shouldn't be too surprising as his spiritual forebears were urban flaneurs like Blake, De Quincey, Baudelaire and Benjamin, whose mix of literary gravitas, visionary pretensions, and vague transgressiveness, have their echoes in contemporary psychogeographic aspirants like Ian Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd. Debord's own definition of psychogeography was helpfully vague: "...the study of the specific effects of the geographic environment, consciously or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals", but one suspects that with most of the flaneurs who like to bandy about the word, the individuals upon whose emotions and behaviours the geographic environment is having an effect is particularly themselves.  

Patrick Keiller, who is also often characterized as a contemporary psychogeographer, would on the face of it, after his film London, appear to have left the urban behind to take psychogeographic practices out into the broader field and fields of suburban and regional England, a process continued by the recent Robinson in Ruins. It would be misleading, however to think that this meant that psychogeography had become in any way ruralized. In fact it's probably more accurate to say that, what passes for the countryside of England has become urbanized. While it may not be located within an urban conurbation, the English rural is almost entirely industrialized in one way or another, to greater or lesser degree, from industrial scale farming through to the production of power be it nuclear, wind or water, or the production of consumers in shopping centres, at least in the world that Robinson inhabits.

Alfred Watkins
Alfred Watkins, the discoverer of ley lines, who wrote at length about his discovery providing countless examples and speculation as to their significance in his 1925 book The Old Straight Track, is too often erroneously cited as an early example of a psychogeographer.  Watkins’s discovery could be easily summed up, although not dismissed, by saying that he found that ancient man-made features in the landscape (buildings, burial mounds, churches, fords across streams and rivers, etc) are frequently found to be aligned along straight lines that could be described across the countryside. Watkins's ley lines are not exclusively rural and are also found in urban places, but due to rural architecture being more spaced out they are more easily traced visually at ground level. It was Watkins's practice as a landscape photographer that first alerted him to the phenomenon, crucially though he never ascribed any psychological properties to geography as a result of his discovery. He speculated about the material history of the landscape and the activities of its inhabitants, but didn’t made the leap into the kind of imaginary and metaphysical realm that psychogeographers inhabit.  

Objects that exist in the physical environment that humans inhabit, whether human-made or 'natural', are entities unto themselves. The imaginary inscribing and/or ascribing of psychological or metaphysical properties to them is a purely cultural invention, and in the modern period can be seen as an extension of humanism's project to describe the world in correlation to the human, whether rural or urban, psychogeography rests on a similar conception of 'the real' as existing to be exploited by the human imaginary.

In his book Electric Eden Rob Young suggests that the British Isles hasn't produced 'driving' music in the same way that say the US or Germany has. Due to the lack of space for long roads on the land mass, Britain "...is not large enough to have generated a culture of the open road... travel is more commonly linked to the sense of a quest, a journey undertaken for purposes of knowledge or self-restoration... the British road is a road to the interior, of the imagination rather than a physical coverage of distance...". Young cites this in explanation for the 1960s counter cultural back-to-nature flight from the city to imaginary mystical Edenic rural idyll. This seems a fair observation, however he then seems to conflate this with Alfred Watkins and the Land Art of the likes of Richard Long. While an English exotic mysticism of ley lines, their link to water divination, dowsing, the occult and new age Earth Mysteries culture, might have been given legitimacy by the re-publication of The Old Straight Track in 1970, it was never speculated upon by its author, spiritual and supernatural significance was attributed after the fact, first in the 1930s and then in the ‘60s.   

left: Alfred Watkins Arthur’s Stone, Dorston, Green Way Sighted to and Beyond the Mound
Black and white photograph, published as fig.14 of Alfred Watkins, The Old Straight Track
right: Richard Long A Line Made by Walking 1967
There is however a remarkable similarity between the images produced by Richard Long and Alfred Watkins.  I would venture that there is a distinction that needs to be drawn between the photography and writing of Watkins and both the psychological meanderings of psychogeography and occult ley line mysticism.  By unhitching metaphysics from psychogeography, we might get closer to Watkins's original project, which has much more to do with measuring distance into the past.

Like Watkins, Richard Long's Land Art is concerned with the land itself, with the fact of being in the landscape the activity of measuring it, the conceptual project of seeing it not as an extension of the human imaginary, but as an entity in itself, upon and within which the human is but one agent, almost as the imaginary extension of the land, not vice versa. Long's work  displays little or nothing of the back-to-nature romantic essentialism of the hippies who fled as far as the remote isles of Scotland. They tend to be concerned with the material physicality of being in the landscape, resulting often in formal and structural investigations framing, measuring, tracing, traversing the land and its environmental phenomena. This is equally if not more true of much of the landscape film of the 1970s: the work of Chris Welsby with their sophisticated interaction with phenomena of the landscape, Michael Snow's La Région Centrale, or some of the films of Guy Sherwin, David Parsons, Nicky Hamlyn and others, which engage with formally precise filming of rural landscapes, born from the relationship between the camera and features in the field, very much in the same mold as the equally grounded level explorations of Watkins. 

left: frames from Riding Ring, Guy Sherwin, 16mm, 1976
right: the device used to make Stream Line, Chris Welsby, 1976




frames from Vertical David Hall, 1969
David Hall's 1969 film Vertical is perhaps even closer to the spirit of Watkins with its perceptual framings and frames in the landscape, the relationship with how things line up with distance and perspective, and its illusory games. For Hall, like Watkins, standing stones are objects of spatial reference, not sacred or mystical sites.

An excellent research paper on Alfred Watkins can be found at the Tate Research site.

None of the Apostrophe S trilogy uses the formal Watkinsesque approach to photographing the landscape; perhaps when we made those films we were too close to a time when there had been something of a reaction to structural film.  I do however remember someone referring to Green on the Horizon as having echoes of a ‘film coop formalism’, or some such thing.  Equally the project does trade on the supernatural associations with ley lines, dowsing, ghost sightings, and so on, that I am somewhat scornful of above.  Indeed Hangway Turning became something of a catalogue of such phenomena.  Having said this I think this was always presented as something of a consciously constructed and appended fiction, somewhat self-aware of its vague absurdity and by extension the absurdity of the myths and urban legends that were attached to specific places while simultaneously helping to define their identity as places, and associating these to the broader cultural frame of myths that might relate to them.