Park Film

by Welsby, Christopher

Film: 16mm 1973

Arts Council of England/Great Britain

The camera was pointed at right angles across a busy park pathway. On the other side of the path are many trees receding into the background. About one-third of the composition is taken up by sky. Many people move through the picture both on and off the pathway. One frame was taken each time a person on the pathway passed into the picture and again as they passed out. Filming began at dawn and ended at dusk. This procedure was carried out over a period of three days. two of the days were sunny and the other very stormy. Financed by the Arts Council. ‘The significance of the landscape film arises from the fact that they assert the illusionism of cinema through the sensuality of landscape imagery, and simultaneously assert the material nature of the representation process which sustains the illusionism. It is the interdependence of those assertions which makes the films remarkable - the 'shape' and 'content' interact as a systematic whole. ‘The primary strategy for exploring the properties of cinematic representation is the manipulation of the recording devices (e.g., the shutter of the camera, or the aperture, or the framing of the composition, or the use of tripod or tape recorder) and the primary strategy for then integrating the 'content' of the landscape with the 'shape' of the film is to establish a system or systems which incorporates the two. Chris Welsby's Park Film is a good example. This seven-minute film is constructed around a rigid system (the 'shape') which is mitigated by an aleatory system (arising from the 'content')...The preconceived rigid system (precisely when a frame should be exposed) is dependent for its execution on the aleatory system (the passerby)...The landscape is thus an integral factor determining the shape of the film.’ - Deke Dusinberre, Afterimage, No. 6.

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Shown in Avant-garde British Landscape Films Tate, 1975


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