PARALLEL – ICO Art + Cinema Weekend 2016
A mini-festival of artists’ moving image presented as part of the Independent Cinema Office's Artists' Moving Image Network project, in partnership with artists' film distributor LUX, at Arnolfini, Bristol 6 March 2016
LUX Bristol Open Forum: First Person Plural
Presentations by members of LUX Bristol Critical Forum, followed by discussion about film and subjectivity with some of the weekend’s guests. From lyrical essays to intimate diaries and self-portraits, artists have long set down their subjective experience on film, avoiding mainstream cinema’s third person focus. What is it about artists’ moving image which makes it particularly suited to first-person film-making? What does this make possible – and how can it articulate and help to influence a position beyond the self?
First Person Film: Performing the Self
The themes and strands of my practice as an artist film-maker originate in childhood from a time before the development of a complex verbal language. These mind images embody a synthesis of sensory experience. They emerge as thoughts half-remembered between waking and falling asleep and dreams recalled whilst surfacing from sleep. This flow from the interior is an improvised and poetic performance of self that becomes manifested in the materials and materiality of film-making – a placing of the self ‘in place’.

Although, as the author Frances Hodgson Burnett has observed about her own psychological development as a young child, I did not possess the vocabulary to articulate this insight and understanding in the spoken word, I was aware of a 'thinking through' process and the existence of an embodied understanding that had evolved from my experience. The One I Knew Best of All: A Memory of the Mind of a Child, Hodgson Burnett's autobiographical account of childhood, and my own experience seems to indicate that we have the capacity to develop and comprehend complex concepts within a self-communication system, prior to the development of a spoken (and written) language in which the thoughts can be expressed.

In the years that followed, I have made many films that draw on my 'visualised' memory connected to touch and proprioception, to create a multi-sensory, embodied mind-image that is located in place. This improvised performance emerges from, and is centred on, the body, which, for Ronald Pelias is the site of memory:

Remembering begins in the body, in vague feelings, in the sensuous before it claims its story. Memory is made from traces, fragments, and images, from what it cannot let go, from what insists on a psychic place. (Pelias, 2004: 50)

Maya Deren, writing about film, suggested that, "Memory makes possible imagination, which is the ability to accelerate real, natural processes that they become unreal and abstract" (Deren, 1949/2001: 13). As memory, these mental images hold "the ephemeral in place, insisting on space, a stage for future performances" (Pelias, 2014: 140).

Image: Stuart Moore

Deren, M. (1946/2001) 'An anagram of ideas on art, form and film' in Bill Nichols (ed.) Maya Deren and the American avant-garde [appendix, numbered pp. 7-52, as original facsimile]. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. pp. 267-322.
Hodgson Burnett, F. (1893/2007) The one I knew best of all: a memory of the mind of a child. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Available: Accessed: 5 March 2016.
Pelias, R.J. (2004) A methodology of the heart: evoking academic and daily life. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
Pelias, R.J. (2014) Performance: an alphabet of performative writing. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.