PUSH / PULL / RECOVER; (2013); Terra Long; TRT: 3.39
A meditation on motion through stillness with breath. Shot in single frames on 16mm and hand painted.
Made at a process cinema workshop in Cuba, Push/Pull/Recover is a meditation on motion through stillness with breath. Shot in single frames on 16mm and hand painted.
Push / Pull / Recover was made in Cuba where I was assisting Phil Hoffman facilitate a process cinema workshop. The school is about an hour drive from Havana. A large gate surrounds the grounds, and most students live there for three years. I was fascinated by the idea of the school as this rich space for creativity and imagination but also as a kind of island in itself. One student described the space as a kind of aquarium – everyone sees you and you see everyone, you develop a different definition of privacy.
There is an old and mostly neglected darkroom that we took over and a telecine that still works. Phil brought all of the chemicals for processing and enough black and white high con film for everyone to shoot a few rolls. We showed students how to use the bolex and hand process their images.
There is a large pool at the school. Every day I would go for swim – I thought of the pool as a container, a space that I could measure my body against. Much like the grounds of the school itself or the country defined against a body of water. Swimming can be a kind of meditative experience but there is also conflict inherent to the act of swimming, the body cutting against water, and the struggle to find rhythmic breathing.
I was interested in creating a sense of this tension through the illusion of a continuous swim. In order to bypass the twenty-eight second bolex wind, I decided to build the film through single frames. Tara Khalili and Reiner Bello- Sanchez walked the length of the pool taking single frames as I swam alongside. In total we shot about 30 seconds of material. Once it was transferred on the Telecine I was able to digitally manipulate the duration of each frame. In terms of film it was a very economical way to work but not in terms of time. Manipulating each frame and finding the rhythm, particularly with the sound was very labor intensive.
The film was hand-processed and painted over. The result is a swim through chemistry.
I shoot with the bolex frequently and love playing with high con stock – it has the uncanny ability to transform the world. Using it I am reminded of the Paul Éluard quote, “there is another world but it is in this one”. This was my first time manipulating single frames and painting on film.
I am finishing a new film. At an estate sale in Alberta, I came across some of the only archival film footage of dinosaurs. This discovery challenged everything I thought I knew about deep time.
It was really cool to be part of AXW – thanks for including me in this project.