Bless’d Pile is Chris Oakley’s multimedia project commissioned to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Jubliee Tower, located at the summit of Moel Famau, North Wales. The project has both a physical presence at the site and a virtual element in the form of a Google map. The map charts the historical, cultural and poetic relationships of the tower to reference points across the globe, and is designed to facilitate engagement with the public in addition to school groups, who are invited to submit images, text, sound and video to populate these links.
The installation at the tower itself was started on the 24th October 2010, and involved the reinstatement of the collapsed portion of the Jubilee Tower with a vertical beam of light, visible for distances of many miles during the hours of darkness. This design was intended to offer a nighttime interpretation of the experience of looking across the Vale of Clwyd from the ridge of the mountain, and particularly by the kinetic qualities of light which can be observed; the interaction of the clouds and sunlight often creates dramatic beams, and the shadows of clouds can be observed moving across the valley floor for many miles. The project is designed to reflect some of these daytime qualities by night; the light tower’s qualities will change according to weather conditions, giving very different appearances in rain, cloud, and clear conditions. In addition to this central feature, lasers were be used to transpose the links defined via the google map back into the real world for the celebration event.
BBC report on the event: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-11617447
Drawing jointly from the traditions of both documentary and experimental cinema, Exchanges will combine innovative visual style with engaging human content. The film follows no single linear narrative, but uses a proto-narrative structure based around thematic links, by turns dramatic and banal, exploring the gulf that the telephone has created between our private and public selves. Without physical meeting, the telephone has become inextricably bound to our sexual lives, but at the same time has eroded our relationship with our physical environment and our bodies themselves.
Throughout the film, we hear a series of thematically linked but otherwise separate telephone conversations, the intimate details of private lives, relationships and sexual adventures. We see images of places and events based around the conversations, which serve at times to illustrate, at times to show events tenuously linked to the conversation, and sometimes deliberately distort the content of the conversation. These images will be by turns drawn from life, mixed with fictional staging of events related to the conversations. The interaction of sound and image will by turns be designed to force conclusions upon the viewer, and at others will serve to invite an unexpected ‘third voice’ from the relationship between disparate sound and image; in this respect the locality of the telephone conversation is brought into question.
It is almost 100 years since D.W.Griffith created the shot/countershot structure of narrative cinema in Hollywood. Not much has changed since, except our attention span, and our means of receiving cinema itself. The project is based on the production of a piece of work reflecting on the changing function of narrative and form in cinema and television, which remains a dominant form of mass culture today. This project forms an element of an ongoing strand of work which is intended to strike an oppositional position to the limitations of industrialised film culture.
The project is based on the development of a body of work exploring the relationship between image and text in cinema. The relationship between film and literature was established in the earliest phase of cinema, with pioneers such as Georges Méliès creating screen adaptations of Cinderella and King John as early as 1899. Adaptations for the screen have formed a staple of mainstream cinema since that time, and narrative based on text remains the foundation of contemporary cinema; a script is considered the precursor to and industrial film production. This could be considered unusual in the light of the fact that film is primarily a visual medium. Many alternative approached have existed to this approach to constructing film, and the earliest films, such as the Lumiere Brothers’ Actualities, used film in a way analogous to photography, very much moving pictures, lacking camera movements, edit manipulation and significantly narrative derived from text.
The project will be based around the development of a series of pieces which are based on the visual adaptation of text to moving image. Using text as a graphic element, classic texts will be used to create projection works where the image consists entirely of text interacting with animated graphic element, and referring to the act of reading itself; using left-to-right scanning of words along with reference to the actual reading speed; the aim will be to create visually involving textural pieces which simultaneously re-frame the relationship between the filmed image and narrative.
Film Texts has received research and development funding from the Arts Council of Wales