See James Buchanan's Facebook page for more stills and info: https://www.facebook.com/james.buchanan.79462815
CANAN is a dual photographic exercise comprised of Super16mm moving image and 120mm still photography. As cinematographer and photographer, we both wanted to move up a gauge, from Super-8 moving image and 35mm stills respectively, in order to learn more about the mediums and give ourselves more room for experimentation by stepping out of our creative comfort zones. When complete, the project will give a new insight into our photographic processes, with moving image and stills each used to capture a mixture of stasis and dynamism, with the rapid-fire photographic process of S16mm cinematography juxtaposed against the solidity of 120mm still capturing techniques.
Modern processes have been used to bridge the gap between the two formats, with GIFs created from the 120mm stills adding a sense of movement not often seen in the presentation of medium-format photography. When screened and exhibited in conjunction, the S16mm footage and 120mm stills will be joined by a raft of materials related to both the subject matter and making process of the works. Props, text-pieces, drawings and other 2D pieces will make up an archive, giving the works a fictitious yet plausible context, further highlighting the extent to which the entire project sits at the fringe of history, fiction and madness.
The narrative aspect of the project revolves around James M. Buchanan, a Nobel Prize winning economist famed for his work on Public Choice Theory and a staunch proponent of Free Market Economics. He and others influenced economics across the western world in the 1980s and ripples of these times are still keenly felt today, with the lasting repository of these economic ideals, the Neo-Liberalist movement, gaining populist influence across the USA and Europe under the guise of spreading “freedom”, a mercurial term to which we will return later.
Pagan iconography and Free Market economics come together in the main character: Canan. A Frankensteinian character dressed in a tribal mask paired with suit, tie and rain poncho, Canan is followed around London, his interactions with his environments captured in ways that show the tension between his intention and the products of his theories. From hyper-individualism and social stagnation in tourist-driven Leicester Square to isolation in money-hungry Bank, and climate change, futility and suicide out in the marshes north of Tottenham, the narrative is a schizophrenic love-letter to a city that has lost its way.
The surreal nature of the moving and still visual aspects of the project presents a hopeful move away from the quantitative nature of the free market economy, moving more towards an honest exploration of a qualitative reality. The analogue formats we have used form a key part not only of the aesthetic of the project, but of its ethos: digital technologies are by their very nature quantitative, prompting, we feel, more binary distinctions to filter through into creativity, whereas analogue media leave room for qualitative critique. In exhibition, we aim to give the viewer complete freedom over his or her reaction, with the curatorial style revolving around balance rather than bias.
The viewer is asked throughout this exercise of viewing to critique what “freedom” might mean to them and to society at large. Never finding or giving an easy answer, Canan turns to tribalist art for guidance, a large spinning sculpture passing silent judgement on the varied shooting locations before meeting a flaming end. Personal and economic freedoms are encapsulated by the symbol at the centre of the mirrored eye of the sculpture; the Amagi symbol being the oldest known visual representation of ‘freedom’ or ‘liberty’. An ancient Sumerian symbol originally, the Liberty Fund, an organisation that champions the economic ideals of James M. Buchanan, now uses it as their logo. It is into this pool of fluid association and concrete result that we wish to throw CANAN, with the hope that the reflection once the surface settles show something somewhat other to what it once did.
Having completed a number of arduous shoots in which we dodged CCTV and security and battled the human traffic of London, all we need now is some financial help in order to process the film stocks. Once we have had the S16mm processed and telecined we can start the editing process, showing you all the progress we make step-by-step. We have processed the majority of the 120mm, but need some of the funds for the final push. Thanks so much for reading and contributing. We are very excited about the eventual opening of the exhibition and anyone who donates any amount will bag an invitation so we can thank you in person.
To have a look at the behind the scenes 35mm photography, shot with help from Francesco Ferrari, head to:
http://mikedaviesfilm.format.com/3323740-behind-the-scenes Very special thanks to Martin Payne who starred as Canan
Risks and challenges
Approached from the beginning as a learning exercise and experiment, we both wanted to move up a gauge in our respective fields; from Super-8 to Super16mm and from 35mm to 120mm. Everything has been risky, challenging yet rewarding so far, with guerrilla shooting in London always bringing with it a fair amount of adrenaline! We have invested a large amount of our time and money in this project so far and are as keen to see the finished product in the light of day as you are.
As with any analogue media, there is a chance that the processing might yield unexpected results, but adaptation and innovation are at the core of this project for a reason!
Thank you for your support.
Mike & J
- (31 days)