As you probably know, I didn’t complete the project I intended to, The Willows, and I ended up making a short self portrait film exploring my creative process – in a somewhat metaphysical, and ironic, way. Obviously, this film was rushed, disorganised, and altogether unfocused. Despite this, I think created some beautiful imagery, and I learned a lot about myself and what I’d like to be doing with my creative practice.
Part One – Methodology:
I came to making this film on the seventh of June, that’s twelve days before my deadline. It was three weeks since I’d finished what would be the first and only track I completed from The Willows, of which there was going to be at least four – ‘The Willows – Prelude’, ‘The Psychology of Places’, and ‘Strange Meeting No. 1 & No. 2’. I felt burned up, I had been polishing the same two minutes of sonic material for weeks, then I’d been in bed, ill, for even longer. At this point I knew I’d failed, I’d failed in practising my own ideal methodology; rather than going outside into nature and making things, I was going out into the world and collecting little bits of it to make something out of when I got back – the creative process was at a computer, not outside. Furthermore, I knew I wasn’t going to complete The Willows project, effectively nullifying the second section of my project proposal. Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to complete the intended piece, and knowing I wasn’t working in the way I wanted to, meant I knew I was going to have to change something, if I was to have anything at all to show; even if I didn’t finish the project, I could be happy knowing I had worked towards it in the way I’d wanted to. So that’s what the film was, and I guess that’s how the two pieces are tied together.
The first thing I did after deciding to start a fresh project, in order to work in the way I wanted to, was to throw my tired body into the freezing twilight of the English Channel. At the time, it seemed to symbolise exactly what I wanted to be doing – submerging myself in the outside world – while simultaneously proving the futility of my previous attempts to fight and harness such aberrant natural forces for my own aesthetic goals. Though I now realise it was just creative desperation disguised as poetry. But it was hopeful, and indulgent, and inspirational; there is always inspiration in one’s own delusions, especially those which elevate convolution to the hight of intricacy- a lesson I’ll keep with me. After this one evening of experimentation in the outside world – with no structure in mind – I decided this was the easiest way to practice my methodology of creating in the real world. Rather than fighting to make the world do as I needed it I was to see what it offered me. Working like this felt healthy, really wonderfully healthy.
Part Two – Artistic Communication:
I had the intention of focusing on a less existential fear, and allowing the source material of The Willows to communicate its own more visceral, distinctly non-human fear. As you can see if you’ve watched my film, this did not come out in the final piece. Moreover, this didn’t come through in the section of The Willows I actually completed, as this section was a sort of thematic preparation for the rest of the piece. As for the communication of ideas through the film, I think my audience – of those who listened and watched with their full attention – saw what I was trying to do with the film; people laughed, people understood the irony, and several people said they could relate to the process I was describing.
Part Three – Learning:
I feel I learned a lot while still working on the sonic piece; I went from having no idea how to compose electroacoustic music, to being confident in composing entirely within the realm of electroacoustics, and in mixing the techniques I learned with my more traditional musical practice. Given the same time again to complete a project as ambitious as The Willows was, I would feel confident in completing the project to a reasonable standard – one of the key issues I had was burning myself out learning the techniques, and being lost for motivation by the time it came to creating anything for the final piece. The research process during for The Willows was incredible enlightening, and was the only time I’ve managed to find research thoroughly interesting while being practically useful in my work.
Part Four – Exhibition:
For both the pieces I completed correct exhibition is incredibly important to me. At the opening even of my end of year show, I found my film work was drowned out by ambient sounds when played on the big screen in the centre of our exhibition space, which detracted drastically from the comic and emotional impact of the film. As for the sound work, it is important that it is listened to through decent headphones, and you should probably listen to it alone and in the dark.
Ultimately, I am happy with how all the work I completed turned out, and I’m particularly happy I was able to complete the film in the way I did. It was a struggle, and I will never use such a personally important project to experiment with a new medium, but I am pleased I managed to pull it all together.
Benjamin Isaac Brockbank-Naylor signing off for the last time, college is over.