Downside Up

by Hill, Tony

Film: 16mm 1985

Midnight Underground - C4
Arts Council of England/Great Britain
Cambridge Darkoon Gallery, Cambridge, England; Figuring Landscapes

Explores spatial relationships of the camera: a series of shots in which the camera appears to emerge from the ground, rises in an arc and disappears into the ground again.

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I started making films whilst a student of sculpture at Saint Martins School of Art. My first films were projected onto a screen on the floor of a small room and the audience stood on the screen.These were followed by other experiments with projection and multi-screen presentation. I realised that film has great potential to see in ways quite unlike the ‘normal’ perception that point-of-view filmmaking simulates. The idea for Downside Up started with some experiments where I was filming a man standing in a landscape that rotates around him. I built a simple device to achieve this and filmed some tests with it going over a car and small tree. I liked the way the movement turned you upside down almost without realising and revealed a new perspective on the landscape. Later I obtained some funding and built a portable crane to make the movement.The content became a sort of home movie involving my family, the landscape where I lived, sculptural things I had made and local events. Every shot is a scene going from black frame, up, over and down to black frame, making all the edits invisible. Some people are physically disturbed by watching the film, this confirms for me the powerful influence of gravity on how we see the world and the strong need to tie our perception to the ground.The beauty of the medium of film is that it can briefly release us from this view and force a reappraisal of our relationship to the landscape. Tony Hill, 2008


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