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Shorts in Transit

In Focus: Parade, Vicki Bennett (2009) and Two Minutes, Laura N Tamara, Adebanji Alade and Yero Timi-Blu (2018)

‘In Transit’ was the theme of the third series of shorts shown at sea / film, it featured films about travel, epic journeys and the joy of exploration. They questioned why does movement matter? And is the simple passage of time really life's ultimate adventure?

Whether by physical or mental movement, it is interesting to see the places that travel can take us, the situations it puts us in and the way the moving medium of film, translates it for audiences.

Parade by artist film maker Vicki Bennet is the first film in focus. Commissioned as part of the Bupa Great North Run 2009, it acts as a visual collage sourced from 28 years of archive footage of the event. Bennet herself, who works under the name, People Like Us, specialises in the reworking of screen heritage and audio, and believes in open access to archives for creative use.

Excerpt from Parade, Vicki Bennet, (2009)

Parade is told in an utterly non-narrative format, images burst onto the screen, jumping, shifting, falling and rising emulating the pure energy of the event itself. The lens shifts from spectators to runners to architecture and in some section’s dissolves into pure abstracted form, a transitory style highlighted in an interview with Bennett who calls the work a ‘collage film using cubist and vorticist techniques, [and] the idea of capturing movement through a still image.’[1]

This abstracting technique mimics fully the dynamism and kineticism of vortiscim, subverting the usual highly formularised televisual representation of such sporting events, where there is a commentator building the narrative and shots are constructed around set angles or the athletes taking part. The film unlike such press coverage lacks any human narratives and is instead driven by an uplifting recording of Erik Satie’s Parade, by the Willem Breuker Kollektief. This provides an avant-garde sound, ultimately creating a frenetic soundtrack which as Bennett comments, has an ‘energy [which] fits in with the movement of the film.’[2]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         Stills from Vicki Bennett, Parade, (2009)

 

 

A film featured alongside Parade, in the programme was Two Minutes (2018) animated by Laura N Tamara and created by Adebanji Alade and Yero Timi-Blu. Rather than looking at a large scale event in the case of Parade, it focuses instead on the small and claustrophobic world of a London underground tube journey. 

 It takes the form of an animated poem based on sketches done by Alade on the London underground, who after returning to the UK from Nigeria, decided to sketch his fellow passages, every time he boarded the tube. Timi-Blu used these images as a starting point for the spoken-word element of the film, which overlays the changes and shifting imagery. A host of characters appear and fade as the stops pass:

‘Snoring soles drifting in out of consciousness’

‘hospitality workers’

‘The city boy opposite’

All the while they try to avoid contact with other passengers as much as possible on their various journeys under London, distracting themselves with technology, make-up or food. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         Still Two Minutes, Laura N Tamara, Adebanji Alade and Yero Timi-Blu (2018)

At one point the tube grinds to a halt ‘we will remain here for a few minutes’ a voice crackles over the loud speaker, and with that the movement and plans of the travellers are halted, as they grumble and wait in silence for their journey to resume. 

 

The moving and shifting animated sketches, perfectly capture, not only the jolting movement of the tube, but the various faces that you encounter; present for such a short period of time, before morphing into someone else. The sketches are also often layered on top of each other, like the bodies that are crammed awkwardly in the carriages, no space to move, but all with places to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        Still Two Minutes, Laura N Tamara, Adebanji Alade and Yero Timi-Blu (2018)

‘Always in a rush, always in such a bloody rush’ the narrator states at one point, a pertinent comment not just on the passenger in focus from the film, but also on how many of us live our lives constantly striving forward, running to the next thing, without perhaps even taking just two minutes out of our journeys to slow down, reflect or make contact.

Words by Martha Cattell

 

[1]Animate Projects, ‘Engine speaks to Vicki Bennett/People Like Us,’ Vimeo, Sep 16, 2009 https://vimeo.com/6605957

[2]Great North Run Culture, ‘An interview with artist Vicky Bennet, creator of 'Parade,'’Youtube,May 20, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MBWQ3iKQ-E