Digital Memory
A one-day Arts Institute symposium
University of Plymouth, 16 January 2017
River of memories
Joint paper with Stuart Moore
This paper explores the affinity between location and registers of memory using the material specificities of two of our recent collaborative digital films whose methodology aligns to new materialism’s imperative of “understanding materials through working with them ... understanding and working with the material, not dominating it” (Simms and Potts, 2012, 13). Reach is an ‘environmental’ direct animation that enables a symbiotic conversation between artist and place through ‘celluloid’ film’s agency as a sensitive and sensible recording medium. The upcycling of 16mm film by planting it in the mud banks of the Tamar allows the river to ‘make the film’ through the flow of its tidal waters and the action of biota. Maelstrom continues our theme of recycling and repurposing ‘unwanted’ material: mysterious upwellings and whirlpools flood with cinematic memories of long-forgotten arrivals and departures at the mouth of the Tamar, effected through the ‘projection’ of archival home movie footage - a ‘sea of moving image’. Whilst both films re-create memory in the present, Reach makes memories and Maelstrom retrieves them: like cinema and a moving image stream, the interplay of stasis and motion of the tidal river’s intermittent movement brings into being a confluence of histories and lived experience.

Keywords: film, landscape cinema, materiality, new materialism