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  • Writer's pictureRitchard Allaway

21/02/24 - A Narrated Film in Landscape

21st February 2024:

An Outcome: Content and Dissemination

As in my previous blog entry, ‘Over-Silton: A return or a derive’, I discussed the reasonings behind why I found myself working within the field once more, including returning to a familiar landscape and using the method of drifting to direct my walk and collection points for moving image and sound. Through this process I was able to return to my studio with a collection of varying material that I would in turn put together into a short film and/or sound piece. I was not solely focussed or set on gaining a solid outcome as I understand that experimental nature of my work and that not all collection residencies do work… something I am developing with further practice working with new technologies. I did hope that my return to the studio would provide me with options to work with and use against older work. For example, my negative film video that showcases the hidden energies within landscapes, what if natural sounds were played over the top, would the energy imagery communicate a form of natural sound to an audience? Could the visible landscape sounds be that of the invisible? This is something I am currently exploring and will continue to experiment with over this year.

When I returned with my sound recordings, the human had interfered. Distant gun shots could be heard throughout most of my sound recordings, somewhat spoiling what natural sound was left and when I placed it over the energy imagery it did not quite work. I therefore assessed my footage of Over-Silton and composed a short four-minute film about just looking at that landscape. I decided to over-lay the captured sound but place it at a low level so that a balance could occur between image and sound, a concentration encounter between visualising and listening, something I aim to create when audiences experience my work; a mimicking of my action in the field; viewing and listening over a period of time.   

As I watched and listened, I felt as though some other element was missing, and when I looked back at previous work including residencies, I remembered the important conversations I had with myself, reflecting on my residential experiences. What then would occur if I was to place narration over the film? Now I will touch on this quickly, this word ‘narration’. Narration is a term I am coming across more and more when I consider my collective practice of walking and reflecting, I am narrating my experiences within specific landscape through writing. With narration I am starting to ask myself whether it is possible that to narrate the geographies of feelings and sensations through either writing, image and or sound. From this, I pulled up old conversations I had documented, set up the Tascam and microphone and began recording entries I had written when walking. Something was not right though; I could not seem to find an entry point that situated itself within this film. I therefore looked to other landscape walking immersive artists for support and guidance. I returned to a favourite of mine, Sara Maitland. I do not need to repeat my interest for a Book of Silence, but I knew that it could be an excellent point of reference to support the film.

 My concern here is that I get pulled up for some form of plagiarism, but I wish to make it clear I am not taking the words of Maitland and making them my own, I am simply using well written reflective commentary from times spent in familiar landscape as a support mechanism. Maitland has a wonderful descriptive dialect about nature, and I wanted to use said conversations as a means to demonstrate the feelings and sensations found as the human audio element. The narrated transcript talked about micro elements within the landscape, fairy tales and myths surrounding certain European forests, ancient ideologies and contemporary practices within forests and remote pastures. What returned to me was a wonderful collection between, moving image, natural sounds and reflective commentary and I had put this together within five frames that transitioned between thirty to forty-five seconds.   


The film was recently shown at the Pineapple Black gallery in Middlesbrough for the ‘Last Shot’ exhibition. The exhibition was a collective mix of practices from a varying degree of local artists. Showcasing this work was my first film to be exhibited and so I went with a more common (safer) approach to presenting. I worked with the curating team to access a large flatscreen TV monitor, a sitting bench and two sets of headphones. I gave free reign to the curating team to place my work and its placement was well selected. My work sat close to the gallery entrance and set away from the main body of work on display. This supported the notion of myself wanting to have my audience finding themselves with no distraction other than just sitting, listening, and viewing the film – an inter-relationship between the dialogue of nature and the human.

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