Three films, three places… Penny Whitworth writes about her film making process, and her Gordian projects bookwork.

Three films, three places… Penny Whitworth writes about her film making process, and her Gordian projects bookwork.

Much of my work concerns the exploration of spaces, architectures, and constructions, particularly those on the edge of conventional public areas and those whose use has been abandoned or transformed. Through my process I consider how we are affected and controlled by the environments we inhabit.

Stills from Three Films, Penny Whitworth, 2017

The places that I initially explored for this series of works—a defunct water tower, an industrial complex of gas facilities, and a long out of use cable car winch—each have particular designs and purposes that contrast with the pedestrian nature of the areas that surround them. Despite this, they are largely overlooked by the people who pass by them on a daily basis. Once they are engaged with and thought about, their presence, past and present, is illuminated. Historical and contemporary speculations intertwine as I interpret and begin to take ownership of these places, merging my existence with the sites through which I pass.

‘The pasts … swirl around any explorer of ordinary landscape…. [T]he built environment is a sort of palimpsest, a document in which one layer of writing has been scraped off, and another one applied. An acute, mindful explorer who holds up the palimpsest to the light sees something of the earlier message, and a careful, confident explorer of the built environment soon sees all sorts of traces of past generations … simply because objects and even landscapes from the past have shaped their lives and shape them still.’ John R. Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places, 1998

          
Stills from Three Films, Penny Whitworth, 2017

The original films highlight the dynamism and confusion of detail that arises from the combined processes, drawing the viewer into the various aspects of each place in a frenetic editing that echoes the distracted way we move through edgeland spaces. Transferring Three Films into book works allowed me explore the slower and more contemplative elements that develop when they are viewed as still images. New details appear and a sense of the spaces themselves—rather than our movement through them—begins to emerge.


Stills from Three Films, Penny Whitworth, 2017

Each of the spaces in Three Films was first shot with a 35mm stills camera—a Pentax P30 or ME Super—the stills film was then put through a Lomokino cine camera, a small, hand-operated movie camera. The resultant imagery, full of shifts in focus, varying orientations, competing frames and a wealth of detail, have always been considered as both still and moving artworks, with neither taking precedence over the other. This tension gives the work an on-going sense of ambiguity and allows the modes of production to produce the modes of looking.

Each video piece from Three Films (Siward’s Way, Gasworks and Scarborough) can be viewed at penelopewhitworth.com and the bookwork can be ordered via the PayPal links below:

 

UK orders  (£20.00 + £2.90 postage)

Europe orders  (£20.00 + £5.80 postage)

Rest of World orders  (£20.00 + £8 postage)

 

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