Friday, 26 February 2010

And more theory.

Okay, I've thought of a couple more points that I want to crack out in words but I can't be bothered to mess around with the formatting of the last post to make it coherent so I'm just throwing them here in a new post.

The focus of these ideas has all along been the writing. The films are a vessel for the writing. I think that is another reason why I am having an off screen voice over as opposed to an on screen actor. To put the emphasis on what is written/is being said and why there is little interaction with the scene other than simple signifiers to set the mood of the piece.

As my ideas exist now there seems to be a sort of ambiguity when it comes to a time frame. I'm not sure if what the character is saying is happening at the same time as what is being seen or if the snapshot of footage from this person's perspective exists independently of the speech. I'm not sure what the connotations of either interpretation are or whether I need to enforce one possibility and reject the other. The absence of the character from the scene is important I think for reasons I mentioned above. But what else does this suggest?

Diegetic sound is something else I need to consider. The use of background noises, do I re-record noises and incorporate them or do I simply take what was recorded originally and introduce the recorded speech? Again if the camera work is from the character's perspective then that suggests they experienced all the sounds and noises. How do I alter or edit these? There are integral messages in the background noises but they are not the focus as the speech is, they are simply there to guide the viewer.

It's all confusing, I need to continue to look at theory as I go along and create some sort of coherent explanation of why I choose to do things in a certain way because I am as yet unsure other than for very basic reasons that I can't quite communicate.

Theory, theory, theory.

After yesterday coming to some sense over the responsibility the artist should take when exploring and understanding the meaning of their work I now feel weighed down by all the possible avenues of interpretation and meaning when it comes to making films.

I've been trying to read up on some theory about semiotics and narration. I find it hard to concentrate on reading any large amount of text and the books I'm looking at may as well be written in Latin.

Semiotics, narrative, narratology, fabula, the gaze, semantics, discourse, point-of-view, focalization, intradiegetic, homodiegetic, heterodiegetic, extradiegetic, intrinsic, invoking, fundamental, third-person, primary, character, camera narrators, voice-over, psychoanalysis. It goes on and on. 

There's so much to learn and know. I don't expect to understand all of it or know whether I'm incorporating any of into my work but I feel I should know a fair amount and why I'm doing things.

My ideas so far revolve around a sort of first person character-camera view. The optics of the main character who narrates/tells his short story/performs his monologue as an off-screen voice over. The off-screen narration reminds me of documentary and I think this will work as I like the idea of the films being a short documentary of someone's experience in which the viewer shares through the character-camera view. Within this setup the gaze is that of the character, but also the viewer as well as the camera or director. How does the meaning alter if I introduce interaction with other characters? Obviously camera angles and what I film are very important, I've thought about this slightly, pointing the camera down or upwards can alter the impression. The scene can change the mood of the film. It seems difficult to cover all the bases though. I find psychoanalysis quite daunting. I am trying to understand how what I do may be perceived if psychoanalysised but I don't think I'll ever be able to understand it fully and I'm worried about what I film being read in the wrong way. Is there even a wrong way? I guess if a psychoanalysis of my film contradicts what I was going for then I have gone wrong.

It's all so confusing and difficult to get to grips with. I think I may try to start with the basics and develop from there, introducing more signs as the work progresses. 

I've got so smothered in theory that I can't remember what else I was going to write. I'm drowning.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Up Against The Wall

A slight update: I'm still trying to write monologues. I have my video camera and am trying to obtain some good footage. I'm watching some Mike Leigh films when not being distracted by Peter Capaldi's brilliant performances as Malcolm Tucker in 'The Thick of it'.

Today I attended a platform lecture at university by David Bate. It was about reading images, using the Jeff Wall piece 'Milk' 1984 as an example. I took a fair amount of notes and I found it very interesting. I had looked at a couple of Roland Barthes' texts and have a background knowledge of some very basic Freudian psychoanalysis.

There was some interesting points made about semiotics and signifiers, coded messages and denotation/connotation. There was a lot said about chains of thought and association when looking at a picture and how one thought leads to another but how most of these associations are simply that, things we associate ourselves through perceived connotations of imagery. A large part of the lecture was on how the title 'Milk' directs the viewer down a specific chain of thoughts. None of these thoughts or references are directly visible or denoted in the picture but arrive in our minds through the connotations of specific icons or images in a picture.

Some points I picked up on that I want to look at using in my films are the power of gesture and how small details, whether conscious or not, can alter the viewer's perception. An example, from work by Eisenstein, which I feel strongly inclined to reference, is the clenched fist at a person's side, connoting oppression and frustration or defiance. I also like the connotations of shapes, as in the Jeff Wall piece, rectangles for an institutionalised, state background and the triangular figure shape being a sturdy, organised shape in reference to classical painting. Another idea that I think could be key to my work is that of the decisive moment in regard to narrative. It's not the decisive moment of pressing the shutter on a camera but more the scene which is depicted being a key moment where the playing out of the story hangs in the balance. A still photograph gives the viewer scope to imagine how a scene may play out but a film maker ultimately makes that choice for the viewer. These decisive moments of narrative intrigue me greatly.

Another key point I took from the lecture is that you will never know exactly what you are doing when creating a work but it is of great importance to recognise your responsibility as an artist to think about the references you include and decisions you make in regard to the meaning of your work. To just create is to be a lazy artist. There is a responsibility to think intently on what you are doing from the beginning of a piece through to its curation in a show. You will not always think of everything that people see in your piece and that is okay as it simply adds to the discursive. References may not have been intended but if people see them then they are there.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Correspondence with MP Mark Oaten RE: Robin Hood Tax

Thanks for this
In principle we support the robin hood tax 
- it is an interesting proposal. 
I think there are some technical issues that 
would need to be overcome and 
also a more international approach would 
make it more effective.
In the interim we are proposing a 10% tax 
on bank profits to help rebalance the books 
- where the tax payer acts as a safety net for banks.
Unfortunately this invite has come a bit late 
and I already have meetings 
- but I will find out what is said at the meeting.
Sent: 22 February 2010 10:48
To: OATEN, Mark
Mark Oaten
Dear Mr Oaten,
You are my MP.  I support the "Robin Hood" 
financial transaction tax( 
This tiny tax on financial transactions could 
raise billions of pounds for good causes. 
Advocates of the Robin Hood Tax will hold 
a Parliamentary launch between 12.30-2.30pm on 
Wednesday 24th February in Committee Room 17 
of the House of Commons. 
I request that you attend this event. 
A formal invitation with more details and 
contact information is attached.
Yours sincerely,
Tim Hodge

Thursday, 18 February 2010

A letter to Sir Nicholas Winterton

Dear Sir,

I would like to come to your defence over your comments of there being a "totally different type of people" in standard class train carriages.

You couldn't be more correct sir.

You are certainly poles apart from any person who travels in standard class. I for one, who travel cross country in standard class, find it extremely hard to relate to you at all.

I'm sure if you are reading this (and although I doubt it, I hope you are as any responible MP would), you have worked out the purpose of my email.

Yes, us mere mortals in standard class definitely do have a different outlook on life. And I am glad of this. I highly doubt I could look at myself in the mirror, or any other highly polished surface for that matter, or sleep at night if I shared a similar outlook to you.

As a final point, please don't feel like you are not welcome in standard class. Just please don't expect people not to look over your shoulder or distract you with their mere pathetic existence. Having said this, I'm sure you won't be needing to make such long, arduous journies much longer. That seems to be the nature of 21st century politics, one can no longer voice their opinions on the common, disease-ridden, working class scum with their filthy offspring and their vocal chords which make noise.

All the best for your retirement. (I can recommend some good books to read, films to watch and parks to sit in. Do you play golf? If not you may want to take it up.)

Yours indignantly,
Tim Hodge

18th February 2010 13:30

As I write this I am still sat in bed. I am certain to miss my crit group at 2pm. As both crits and reflection seem integral parts of my course, or my "practise", I feel I should reflect on why I am not there.
Answer: I slept in.

Because I was watching the Winter Olympics until gone 4am.

"You know why kids love athletes?" 
"Because they screw lingerie models?"
"No, that's why we love athletes. Kids love them because they follow their dreams."
-Up in the Air, 2010

I guess I still do love athletes and partly because of this very reason.
Hopefully the drive, determinaton and ambition of these athletes can rub off on me as sitting in bed now at 13:47, I clearly don't have any.

Sunday, 14 February 2010


Ok, I'm under more and more pressure to do this reflective journal. I need to start it now and I need to stop neglecting this blog. Whatever I write here from now on shall be going in my reflective journal.

I'm fed up. Fed up of painting and art and society and everything. Blaaargh! Art school is so detached from reality and it annoys me.
So in an attempt to create something that has even the slightest value or relevance to anything I've decided I'm going to move into making short films and/or videos. I'm looking at buying a camcorder and I'm going to film various scenes that catch my eye. I'm going to write scripts and monologues for voice overs. I feel it is important to emphasise that the scripts are what I'm really going for here, I want to get back into writing. It's more useful to me than painting and I think it's more appropriate to the subject matter I am tackling.

I am reading up on some film theory and semiotics and doing some research into relevant British short films. Hopefully I can carry on writing and get hold of a camcorder and get some filming done soon.

Sorry if this isn't the most coherent post but I'm trying to bash these words out while they're on my mind so I don't keep putting it off. 

Anything else that pops into my mind should be abruptly plastered all over this sorry excuse for a blog.