REQUIEM // 102 minute #29

This is my contribution to Nick Rombes’ experimental film project, which marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream. Nick said that REQUIEM // 102 “aims to expand and push the boundaries of writing and thinking about film in the digital era [and] examines/explores/riffs on/detours from/responds to/aggravates/ supplements/ one frame from each minute of the film. 102 minutes = 102 frames.” He sent me this jpg, taken from minute #29.

Memories Wanted
I watched the film when it came out on DVD in 2001: that’s over 100 months ago. I watch around 5 features a week, so my memory has piled at least 2000 films on top of Requiem for a Dream. When I opened the jpg, my eyes bounced around the upended triangle formed by the look-lines of youth/clown/green balloon, then shot off right into the darkness. I felt disappointed. I didn’t recognise this image, and I realised that I couldn’t recall much about the film either, although I know at the time it had a big impact on me. My experience of Requiem for a Dream comes around the half-way point of the twenty years I’ve lived here in Plymouth, a city on the far south west coast of Britain. I decided not to watch the film again, but to respond subjectively to the ‘essence’ of this frame when I finished work at the University (1) at 3 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon 15 December 2010, the day before publication. Minute #29 became a digital Alice-mirror (2) which I entered to see what I could bring back.

First glance
green / shut / waiting / wet / dark / neon / grime
evil clown with sunglasses / bandit mask
bobble hat raccoon

There is a sign: B(AL)LOON RACING (OOs like eyes)
tense mouldy lemon / the youth coated in shadow has the look / caught between the clown on the left and death on the right

I read #29 as a found image, discovered within a dream of favourite cinematic drug moments; taken by an unknown photographer of someone whom I know/I’ve never met. There is no daylight, no moon, nor starlight. The shutters are down in the always night.

Detection/divination: this film is something that happened to me many years ago, but I can’t remember the details. I read the gender: its wandering rooted in a moment stopped from a stream. Memory X, composed for the dead. A private eye, I search the city with my camera (3), looking for...

Materiality, the place of remembrance: “the feminine must be deciphered as inter-dict: within the signs or between them, between the realized meanings, between the lines” (4).
I walked down the Mayan temple steps of the Faculty of Arts building into the syrupy light of a low winter sun. Outside the Drake Circus shopping mall I met a group of architecture students, collecting favourite memories of Plymouth from passers-by. I wrote mine on a slip of card attached to a helium-filled balloon with a thin red ribbon: “swimming in the bathing pool (no clothes, under moonlight) in the rocks off Plymouth Hoe after the clubs kicked out X”.

REQUIEM // 102 minute #29 Memories Wanted from Kayla Parker on Vimeo.

My balloon is the green one: it is this fugitive colour that allows me to pass through #29 into an/other place.

The students are planning to set all the memories free, but the camera battery is running out, so I go home to charge it up and download my jpgs and mpgs. The next section is my return journey: the photos are all hand-held, and record a living moment stretched between the shutter opening and closing. Light is falling fast as I walk across to Beaumont Park and along Regent Street to the back of Maison Terry hair salon.

But the students and all the balloons have gone.

So I walk down Cornwall Street, past a green balloon in the window of the British Red Cross charity shop and through the smeech of cut-price burgers. I swerve around a purple-faced drunk who has no front teeth, ignore three men doing a dodgy deal in a side alley, and reach the indoor market at the bottom end of town, which is about to shut as it’s almost 4.30.
kayla's final photo taken at the end of her random walk for Requiem 102 - it's the corner of Plymouth Market at the western corner, outside Project Space 11, where I used to go to buy foam sheet for making no-budget armatures for animation modelsThe glass doors part, and I’m t/here, just in time.

Thanks to
Nick Rombes, for inviting me; Stuart Moore; the architecture students from University of Plymouth, who were doing a project set by their tutor Dr Gursewak Aulakh; and my PhD supervisors Professor Liz Wells and Professor Roberta Mock.

1. I’m a lecturer in Media Arts at the University of Plymouth. I am also a PhD student. My thesis title is Every frame counts: gender and creative practice in direct animation, and my doctoral research draws on the writings of feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray. She argues that Western philosophy is both specularizing - a mirror back to the self - and specular - invoking the ‘presence of an absence’ (coded as feminine). This argument draws upon Lacanian psychoanalysis. Irigaray states that Western philosophy therefore does not provide a framework for understanding sexual difference because the masculine determines the parameters.
2. A large mirror above the fireplace allows the girl Alice to get through to the other side in Lewis Carroll’s Through the looking glass and what Alice found there; published in 1871. I have a copy of the Penguin 1970 revised edition of The annotated Alice.
3. The camera is a 6.2 Megapixel HP R717 Photosmart compact. It actually belongs to film-maker and sound artist Stuart Moore, who won it in a competition a few years ago.
4. The quotation is from the beginning of Luce Irigaray’s essay ‘The blind spot of an old dream of symmetry’ in Speculum of the other woman; translated by Gillian C. Gill, and published by Cornell University Press in 1985. The book was published originally in French under the title Speculum de l’autre femme by Les Éditions de Minuit in 1974.

Read more info about the project in a piece by Scott Macaulay: 102 celebrations of Requiem for a Dream in Filmmaker, the magazine of independent film (2 November 2010)