Odds and Ends – an artist’s notebook
Oct 19th – The month of the dead is fast approaching; and before that Halloween. So, who says the dead can’t have something to say about urban landscapes. Until end of November, I am going to focus cemetery landscapes.
Halloween has deep roots in Celtic history and lore. The end of October marked the end of the harvest season and the ancient Celts would take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. It was also a time when boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and sometimes cause troubles by making people sick or damaging crops.
All Soul Day is held on Nov 2nd and marks a time to pray for those who have died with grace but still must atoned for all their sins. There is the belief that if you pray for the dead then their time in purgatory may be shorten. While the day is set aside for prays, essentially the whole month is a time for remembering the dead.
Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to look at how 19th century concerns with death and the dead, shaped one of the major feature of our urban landscape – cemeteries.
Hopefully, everyone will find this journey an enjoyable one.
Odds and Ends – An artist notebook
05 Oct 2015 – I continue to explore the long format of field recordings with video. Many field recording sites only include sounds; some will post a few photos to show the context of the video. I am increasing being drawn to the combining video with my field recordings. It is a really nice way to be in the moment of a location.
On the cable, you can find sunsets, fish tanks, topical beaches, and the classic fireplace on 30 minute loops. So, I must not be the only one who finds this interesting to watch and listen.
I also like the long format of 10 minutes or more. It gives you a chance to settle in and appreciate the location. The challenge of these longer clips is the amount of time it takes to load up to Youtube.
The GoPro Hero 4, silver edition, has been a great tool for the video recordings, really cuts down on the gear and weight. The downside is the ability to focus on distant objects.
The latest project focuses on the wind and Cootes Paradise. Unfortunately, it is very hard to get close to the reeds in a way that still provides a good view of the landscape. There are usually trees and branches blocking some of the view. In addition, the GoPro tries to put everything is focus, so objects close to the lens compromises the sharpness of objects in the distance. Thus, my ability to zoom in on those distant objects is limited.
A weekly video blog on my art and film-making. Posted every Wednesday morning on Youtube and my blog: Fat Cats – Starving Dogs.
This week: new landscape series focusing on urban houses.
Urban Landscape Artist
Recently, I had to scout locations for my upcoming short documentary film on Hamilton’s Irish Cork-town of the 19th century.
With so much of the architecture and landscape lost to development, I wanted to capture want survived and what might be re-captured via my imagination.
What soon became apparent was how little of Hamilton’s was actually captured by the camera or even drawings. As a result, walking the streets of late 19th and early 20th century Hamilton requires a great leap of imagination.
This won’t be the case in the future.
Using Google Map and Google Street View to chart film locations, I suddenly realized that these images were the first ever publicly documented records of streets and, even entire neighbourhoods.
Google Street View documents everything. There is no editorial or class basis that might favour the corner of James and King over Young and Aurora.
To be poor or unpopular will no longer mean that your urban landscape and architecture will be lost to history.
Google Street View has ensured that a record of all communities will be preserved for future fans of history and urban architecture.
Artist Chris Erskine
Working on a new film project and reflecting on different ways of using historical photographs and drawings in modern urban landscapes. Last summer, I tried a technique used in several recent documentaries. I am not happy with the results. As a result, I am still searching for a better way of accessing the past via present day landscapes. I thought, however, that you may find these past attempts interesting.
Chris Erskine, artist