Time Travelling/ A True Story

Still from "Time Travelling/A True Story", 1984

This tape began as an idea for a piece which would link to The Room with a View. Having worked with photography as an influence on memory- I decided to look at the potential for film- specifically ‘home movies’ , to present a work about the relationship between memory and images. I was particularly interested in the role of ‘narrative’ or the tendency of the mind to organize experiences and events into narratives, making life into a kind of story, ignoring events that do not fit, or are ambiguous, smoothing out inconsistencies. I decided I would try to organize fragments of my own ‘home movies’, bits of 8mm and super 8mm film footage shot whilst a teenager, into a story, using the soundtrack as the structuring device. The film was re-shot off the movie screen using my video camera and processed through the Videokalos. I was able to use my video studio as a kind of instant ‘optical printer’, copying bits of film, repeating and modifying the images, superimposing captions, treating the colours and re-cropping the images.

The video tape has two distinct sections; the first part presenting the home-made film footage which was rescanned and edited to a modified voice-over from Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel Nausea. Experimenting with this old film footage was itself like the process of playing with memory. The images on the film were of places from my own personal past. Real’ ‘authentic’ fragments of my own past, some of the material evidence of my own early fascination with the moving image; a record of my earliest interest in cinema. This was another aspect of the ‘self’ which could be put alongside the childhood photos of The Room with a View. Being able to electronically manipulate, re-organize and re-present this fragments of my own past was itself a major theme of the work. Creating a fiction from them was the second level. This, I felt was the strength and uniqueness of video technology in its personal dimension. Home video was not yet particularly common, but was very much in the ascendant, home movies clearly had a nostalgic and vintage flavour. Video technology had become a ‘support medium’ and a contemporary frame the for representation of an 8mm past. These moving images could be framed by video as the family album framed the snapshot.

The second section of  Time Travelling /A True Story is a kind of reprise. Another fiction, presented in a contemporary idiom, a very obviously manipulated and electronic ‘present’, which comments on the past by reprising written phrases from the first voice over as electronically- generated captions. Here I wanted to make a piece of work composed of as many different layers of image-making as possible. Referring to a kind of intertextual ‘present’, I was attempting to weave as complex an image as I could, presenting the video screen as an imaginary space in which these layers could briefly and temporarily mix and condense.