An Introduction to The Home Video Series:

                                        

                                              An introduction to 'household' through lens

                                                  Through eye, glass and view-finder

                                                        Through old VHS

                                                  Through wobbly frames and ageing

 

  

 

I believe it is crucial to put the art back in the documentary form and the person back in contemporary art, and this is what much of my work strives to achieve. 

 

 

My mission with the The Home Video Series (begun 2005, ongoing) is to document family life in an unconventional, poetic and brave way. I focus on my relationship with my parents because it is the most important relationship in my life. I owe them my existence and now I try to make sense of it. Family speaks of mortality, of age and ageing, of generation and generation gap. It embodies a structure of need and reliance, of care and commitment. It takes on a specificity and a locale, and holds on to a sense of value and tradition. It is for hope and consolation, it is a constellation, and perhaps, for some, the point of it all. 

 

The Home Video Series engages with an acknowledgement of 'family' as verb, as 'doing' word. I am exploring ways to frame, perform and record that doing and the greater meaning behind it, through the development of this collaborative practice. In actively exploring the relationships between us and the house we have in common, there is an effort to learn a version of family, our version. I strive to be playful and varied, to allow duration and repetition to reveal the similarities and differences, connections and idiosyncrasies that exist within and between us family members. Drawing on grand and petit naratives, we construct our vision of ourselves. I consider the work to be a form of art documentary involving sequences of performed actions in the context of 'real-life' relationships. 

 

Working largely within the domestic tradition of Home Video making, we attempt to record ourselves 'from below'* as historical subjects, and to acknowledge the care and negotiation involved in our belonging. This medium is consciously utilized to reinforce the politics of self-representation. It is not perfect and we have other commitments, but we have ways of being with each other, and this helps. Much of the work operates through the idea of 'serious play' as conceived by the late Jo Spence as part of her writings on Phototherapy. As time passes I realize moments are slipping through our fingers and we need to make something of them. Holding on to a sense of personal dedication, negotiation and risk both in and outside the frame, I attempt to articulate the particularities of our mortal ties and social lives that are both privately and publicly bound. Each video makes a different statement about who we are as individuals and as a family. This is a cumulative work, a series, and somewhere in between them all lies a blurry outline of a life.


I have been inspired and influenced by the work of filmmakers such as Mitchell & Kenyon, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Jean-Luc Godard, Andrei Tarkovsky, Terence Davies, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Duane Hopkins, Miranda July, and also by the photographer Colin Gray for his work, 'The Parents'. 

   

"Dwelling historically meant to settle a piece of land, work it and build a home on it - to stay in a place. Building meant much the same thing but with connotations tied to the construction of material form and thereby establishing a form of life. Behind this distinction is the overlapped set of connotations whereby building also means cherishing, caring, protecting, preserving and nurturing". (Dart, Tim, 1999, Material Culture in the Social World, Buckingham: Open University Press, 61-2)

 

 

On Home Video: The Cinema of Record


Home Video is a free-style genre, a hybrid form of film that is generally not acknowledged in Film Studies or the history of Film with a capital 'F' because it is not 'official'. It is made by people who are not experts in their field. It is an amateur's game. So let us make of it what we want, and let us call for the recognition and acknowledgement of our small time productions.

 

Popular film and television conventions have certainly influenced the way Home Video is made by the general public, but to what extent is questionable. (What usually happens when someone you know picks up a camera?) Bringing a video camera into an everyday context, a personal context, changes the way people behave, and witnessing the overcoming of that 'camera-freeze' is part of the beauty of home video. Building confidence is part of it.


*History from below is a concept of historical narrative in social history, which focuses on the perspectives of ordinary people, rather than political and other leaders. The term was coined by French Historian Georges Lefebvre (1874-1959) and was popularised by British Marxist Historians during the 1960's (Wikipedia, 7 July 2008, http://enwikipedia.org/wiki/History_from_below).