The Measure of It
Performance and artist’s talk: Kayla Parker
Studio One at Plymouth Arts Centre
Wednesday 28 April 2010
6.00pm – 8.30pm

Thanks to Stuart Moore and Jude Bryson-Meehan; Caroline Mawdsley and Plymouth Arts Centre; the South West Film and Television Archive; and the Faculty of Arts at University of Plymouth.

The Measure of It is supported by a research award from MADr, the Centre for Media, Art and Design Research at University of Plymouth

Exploration of feminine landscapes
“The man looks the world full in the face, as if it were made for his uses and fashioned to his liking. The woman takes a sidelong glance at it, full of subtlety, even of suspicion.”
‘Orlando’ (1928) Virginia Woolf, Selected works of Virginia Woolf p. 490

Programme 1: films screened
1. Nuclear Family 4min 15sec 1990
Autobiographical film in which the film-maker’s mother recalls incidents from her daughter's childhood in a Somerset mining village, and the three imaginary friends, two with red hair and one with dark hair, who ‘came down from the stars’.

2. Unknown Woman 8min 45sec 1991
A woman's psychological journey filled with suspense and pursuit, which uses a mixture of drawn animation, stop-motion and live-action footage; originated from dreams of a woman and a crow, in which the two beings shared one sentience.

3. Cage of Flame 9min 40sec 1992
A bewitching celebration of menstruation that uses a variety of animation techniques from pixillation to scratch on film. An antidote to the vacuous sanitised view of menstruation promoted by advertising.
“A dream life of angels. What wings really mean. The wise wound and its belly music. Desire is vulvic and creativity claims the calendar of bodies.” (Gareth Evans for Animate)

4. As Yet Unseen 2min 15sec 1994
A personal view of the relationship between daughter and mother, set in a room which is poised on the threshold of birth or death. The room is at first blank, colourless; we enter through the window like an intruder or ghost. The room becomes literally a ‘living room’ as elements within it come to life; memories of early childhood are activated and set in motion.

Running time: 35 minutes

Programme 2: films screened
“… when a familiar image grows to the dimensions of the sky, one is suddenly struck by the impression that, correlatively, familiar objects become the miniatures of a world. Macrocosm and microcosm are correlated.”
The poetics of space (1958) Gaston Bachelard pp. 169 - 170

1. Walking Out 10min 2000
The third in a series of 16mm films in which the form of the non/narrative, and the depiction of an ‘other’ reality and psychological landscape was driven by the dreams experienced during the process of making of the film; Unknown Woman is the first, Cage of Flame the second. The form of the work develops organically, intuitively, and through dreams. The pattern emerges step-by-step, frame by frame.
Projected onto the window of the Norwich Gallery during the exhibition Animation: synaesthesia in the experimental animated film (2001) curated by Suzie Hanna; after dark the film became visible to people in the street outside.

2. Heirloom loop 2008
Artist’s own hair, collected after brushing and printed onto discarded 16mm colour negative film using household bleach, to reveal the yellow and green emulsion layers beneath the unexposed darkness. An heirloom is something that has special meaning and has been passed down through the generations of a family; the title; ‘heir’ is a homophone of ‘hair’.

3. Hold loop 2008
Dressmaker’s pins, buttons, small metal screws, plastic and silver rings: a collection of ‘found objects’, once used to bind things, and people, together: they have been lost or discarded, then rediscovered and printed into the emulsion of 16mm black and white negative film using household bleach: leaving a trace of their presence falling through time and space. Shown as large-scale projection onto the exterior wall of the Davy Building at University of Plymouth for Peninsula Arts’ British Animation Awards (2008) screenings in the Jill Craigie cinema.

4. The Measure of It loop 2010 work-in-progress
16mm scroll, the length (time) determined by the dimensions of my body (space): the ‘skin’ of the film is pierced with tiny holes using the needle of a dressmaker’s electric sewing machine (unthreaded). During projection constellations appear.

5. The Measure of It loop 2010 work-in-progress
Projection of 16mm film scroll, the length (time) of which is determined by the distance (space) between my outstretched arms from fingertip to fingertip. I draw the landscape I can see from Studio One in the time it takes to project the 16mm films in programme 1: marking the black emulsion with a surgical scalpel, I use the windowpane as a lightbox.

Running time: 15 - 20 minutes

Interval with refreshments: 10 – 15 minutes

Programme 3: film screened
1. Meshes of the Afternoon
Maya Deren / 1943 / b/w / silent / 12 minutes
Filmed by her second husband Alexander Hammid; and made originally as a silent film, with the soundscape composed by her third husband Teiji Ito in 1959. The film won the Grand Prix Internationale at the Cannes Film Festival in 1947.

Shot in two weeks, during World War II on a borrowed 16mm camera, the prevailing atmosphere of unease, fear and instability saturates the film: as European immigrants to the United States, during this period both Deren and Hammid would have felt particularly alienated from North American culture.

She seized upon the 16mm format used by amateurs and to film documentary footage during the Second World War; and in 1946 set up the first screenings of independently-made 16mm films in a cinema. She also initiated the idea of the film tour and co-founded the Creative Film Foundation in 1954.

Deren composed and constructed her films in great detail, and was a meticulous editor. She wrote extensively about film, including An anagram of ideas on art, form and film in 1946, in which she emphasized film-making as a matrix or anagram:

“In an anagram all the elements exist in a simultaneous relationship. Consequently, within it, nothing is first and nothing is last; nothing is future and nothing is past; nothing is old and nothing is new… Each element of an anagram is so related to the whole that no one of them may be changed without affecting its series and so affecting the whole. And conversely the whole is so related to every part that whether one reads horizontally, vertically, diagonally or even in reverse, the logic of the whole is not disrupted, but remains intact.”

Running time: 45 – 60 minutes including discussion

Ends 8.30pm
Running times are approximate