Text Reader No.2

Text for a film screening


The Hand That Holds the Desert Down takes its title from a photograph by the artist Trisha Donnelly. The image shows the paw of the Sphinx in Egypt, the photograph is of uncertain original, when it was taken is unimportant. Somehow in this screening and in this research on masculine and feminine, elsewhere, the document, beauty, machines and voices, the Riddle of the Sphinx appears and is absorbed.  This screening doesn’t offer the solution to any riddles or reflections of a solid question, rather it is a line of questions that are set like a light through a prism to be collected, bent, reshaped and become self-aware and projected on to other surfaces. It offers a series of propositions and an indicator of how I learned/am learning about film, time, place, surface, form. This is an overture, preface, and trailer, and a trigger. Anne Colvin works with a psychological moment, a memory indicator set into a visually translated sentence, she makes wonderful, yet intense and beautiful time machines, that are mechanical, repetitive and conscious. Hazel France points to the dynamic of the frame, its progression, reveal and evolution, the still in sequence, the freeze-frame, the screen outside itself. Anna Lucas looks at the mechanics and apparatus of film, museum and gallery, these instruments of seeing and observing, intruders and witnesses being healed and repaired of their Unsleeping Eyes. Rebecca Lennon creates a ritual of obliteration and removal. A craft of erasing, her camera gazes back on acts of drawing, resurfacing, sculpting, changing, material and function. Lyndsay Mann  draws on a broad filmic vocabulary,  reveals and reveals on/of states of mind and sensation, the screen speaks as much as it sees, with signals towards oral traditions, theatre and ethnographic film. Daria Martin’s 16mm films aim to create a continuity or parity between disparate artistic media (such as painting and performance), between people and objects, and between internal and social worlds. This film has Kraftwerk’s modern mechanical hymn Autobahn played by the Balanescu Quartet.  And finally Catherine Sullivan, whose alluring complexity mirroring my state of mind orchestrating disparity, density, brain-ache and diversity has produced several performances and theatre works wherein the performers are often coping with written texts, stylistic economies, re-enactments of historic performances, gestural and choreographic regimes, and conceptual orthodoxies. This short film, which is an extract, but complete in its own right, of a 47 minute project, as this essay indicates, is a kind of trailer to this larger endeavour, and to my endeavour Modern Edinburgh Film School, a continuum of thoughts and discussions, screenings and work on parallels between the screen, poetic form, which includes sound, time and sculpture.


I wish to thank Anne Colvin, Lyndsay Mann, Hazel France, Rebecca Lennon, Anna Lucas, Daria Martin, Catherine Sullivan, Alan Holligan, Benjamin Cook, Kitty Anderson, Katie Bruce, Ben Harman, Cath Whippey, Marion Hetherington, Sara Sinclair, Edgar Schmitz, Ceri Hand & Hannah Pierce, Adam Jones, Joe Etchells, Sarah Neely, Michaela Nettell, Catherine Docherty, a very special thanks to Mark Daniels and New Media Scotland, Creative Scotland and all the Team and members, studio holders of ESW.