A quick update today. I realised a few days after I was last in the studio, I needed to add more detail to the windows. So I returned today to the footage to find out what was going where. Then trimming some balsa to size I added the small pieces.
Leaving me with the rest of the day prime the floor of the model and add the first full coat to the rest. It’s a bit patching at the moment in terms over coverage, some is primed whilst there’s a coat in other places. I should be fully onto painting next time, I’ll just have to remember the order I’ve gone in.
OK technically I did everything in this update yesterday but I was enjoying the company of friends to post. After last weeks crit group I have decided to try out one of the ideas, which was to focus on the violence of one scene, edit it to then show the violence, and project into a purpose-built model of that scene. Here I have made a start on the internal model miniature of the one in Unforgiven (1992). I’ve been playing back and forth the clip to build up and image of the saloon over the day, sketching out elements to see how it looks together.
I then made a start on a loose model of the saloon which after only a day it has really taken shape. I had to gut the previous model to make room for this one as it was just a generic one for a prospective test which has been scrapped. I finished the day looking at the tables, which I believe were covered in green felt – for playing cards, these had to be reduced in diameter for scale too,
Moving on I have to add a fake wall at the top, I’m considering looking over the footage to see if I need to add a ceiling, as I have seen at least 3 posts that need to be added. Also turning to the entrance I need to redesign the door way and getting grim, I need to add a coffin that leans outside. I’ll do a few tests with this set after it’s painted white, see how they look. It’s a real change to recreate a set of a film, which I haven’t really done since Uni, being film specific is something I have wanted to avoid for most of my practice, there are times when that rule has to be broken.
I’m still catching up with last weekend, the last test video has just been edited and I am ready to share it with you now. I ended the day after I had an idea the previous night to combine to the test videos I have been using, the innocent and the perpetrators of violence together. Which meant that I had to re-cut the longer of the two to work together without over running massively or forcing me to repeat the shorter clip which would lose any real effect the piece may have.
I projected it initially, soon realising that I had to reposition the model miniatures either side to fall under the light of each clip. The first few times I ran the piece it was working however the way the footage was falling onto the models it felt uneven. So I went back to tweak it before running it a again. I had to rejig the model, which now sat more comfortably. They had lost the parallel nature of being a street, I had to divide them so they fell on one side or another at the back where the street wraps around.
It was working now, the violence building up for either side – fair enough the timing was a little off, it’s a test so it’s not a big concern. However I felt that the division between both was taking away a big part of the work. By dividing the street I was also losing the relationship between the two, confined to one side or another which is not reflective of the genre or even reality, Violence in those terms knows no boundaries, which I had set-up here. When the violence’s blanketed over the whole town it has more impact, but less sculptural. Having the two channels of action I can potentially show more now. Meaning I need to mix the two up over the two sides of the streets. I also feel that I need to look at violence committed indoors, so another separate piece needs to be built and footage edited together. Also do I still restrict it to white on white violence or do I move to pure violence in the genre, seeing the victims as just victims of violence not race or otherwise. I’m going back to making and sourcing then to see how things progress further. I definitely have a working piece it just making the most of the potential content to have the most impact.
Then comes the question of how far I have come with this piece, the historical roots from Melton Mowbray’s history of what was thought to be violent incident, which, when compared to today’s standards it’s pretty tame really. I’ve abandoned the literal Wild West translation to look solely at the violence of that era through the lens of the genre. If I look at the true roots of the piece; High Plains Drifter (1973) a horror/western that sees a ghost turn a town on its head before letting it be burned to the ground. I seem to have forgotten the other the town pre-violence, not just during and post violence, which could however be illustrative. The purity of the white model miniatures, which is essentially a blank canvas for the town too. I can project onto it whatever I please, I could tell a narrative which is not my style (expect Playing with Plastic (2016)) or leave it blank for audience interpretation which is my style.
After the events today outside the Palaces of Westminster I realised that my current work being discussed today maybe a little out of taste. However if we give into the terrorists, they have won. I want to explore the effects of violence in the Western genre, the human impact, which I feel I am getting closer to with this 2nd test from the weekend. I am sharing with you still as I won’t be scared off either.
Again there is no audio, I feel the images alone are more effective in this test. Below you can find the original test video to make more sense of what I am projecting.
The next test video’s I’ll be sharing was a combination of the two, working together, or even against each other on the same set-up of model miniatures.
I would have liked to share all of my test videos from Sunday, however I’ve met some technical complications that has so far prevented me from editing the test footage. So far I can share the first of the day. Overall I completed four tests, two using the original test videos projected in consecutive order. I found straight away the impact of the 15 model miniatures have greater impact than four. I did however find that I need to stick with exterior violence – that enacted outdoors, not indoors as I have mixed it up for the original test.
Below is the original test video with audio, I decided to not record audio so I could focus on the imagery.
The next test which I’ll be sharing will be the 2nd video projected onto the model miniatures.
It’s been full on of painting today, so out with the paint and brushes and the first coat is now on all of the model miniatures. After priming the remaining pieces that were still having detail added I have finally moved into the next phase before I get the projector out. I finished my day in the studio with a quick layout of the town. I’m really pleased with how they are looking. I am thinking they will need a further 4 or 5 coats before they are a solid white. Putting me on schedule to have another test at the middle of the month or late March.
I can’t remember the last time I spent some real time with this work which I’ve been working loosely with since the summer. Today I’ve spent some good time in the studio playing with my lights and projector, directing them onto the white models I made in the summer. I’ve finally been able to do what I set out to all those months ago. It was rather satisfying to see these ideas take form, if they worked or didn’t was another thing, to actually follow through on a thought that had been there for a long time means I’m happier for it.
So it was all about colour to begin win, wanting to shine block colour, taking the phrase almost literally – painting the town red – with light. I found that the red was coming out more pink, turning to less obvious colours such as green and blue, before finishing with orange. Photographically the results aren’t the best. I found myself returning to earlier work, which is not where I want to be heading, I need to move away from the literal yet atmospheric.
Moving onto another idea I had was to project video onto these essentially blank canvases which meant getting the projector out and finding clips of Westerns I have, seeing what work. Not really choosing anything in particular I went for the rollerskating scene from Heaven’s Gate (1980) which pushed me to consider how to really use the projector and the model, which with every consecutive scene grew ans grew. With this scene it was more about how can I cove the whole or the majority of the model.
It was nice to see how the image consumed the model, becoming an outdoor cinema, projecting its image against a saloon. The image come up well on the model, it will ultimately vary depending on the model being projected onto. I moved onto a scene from The Searchers (1956) which was more of the same. I went to another scene from the film, this time bringing another model, meaning that the projector had to move back to accommodate them both.
What happened here was that the images took on a status of being bigger, yet still very much part of the same world. When I saw the landscape against the more urban models, this is something I wanted to explore, the background being part of these models in the foreground. Pushing it further with the final gunfight in True Grit (1969) which had wide open spaces to take advantage of.
This particular scene worked more so because of the action, the cinematic presentation of the scene, these gigantic god-like being behind the models. I also moved all four of the models in front of the projector, experimenting with layout, creating shadows, which ultimately don’t really matter as the image is still caught on the models in front, the light becomes sculptural. I carried the god-like status through to the next scene – the family massacre in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) which I was very pleased with, partly down to the close-ups.
For the last set-up I positioned the models into a more conventional street set-up, with a gunfight from A Few Dollars More (1965) which drew me to my final thoughts of the day, linking nicely to the original inspiration of the Marquis in Melton – Street violence, or that of gunfights in the genre. I’d like to see how more models and more gunfight scenes work with this set-up. I still want to see how the cowboy figures work in terms of shadows they produce.
So as you can see I have been very busy and had lots of fun, immersed in the Western. To me this piece is about the violence that is created/depicted in the genre, this is where I maybe leading this piece going forward.
A part of my wanting to attend The Big Weekend at New Mills Festival (2016) was to finally see ADP (The After Dislocation Principle) (2015) by James Cauty whose work I had previously seen, most notably the Riot in a Jam Jar series, self-contained moment from disasters that are populated with miniature figures, both comical and deadly serious, how the hell did these events take place, how did we get to this stage to let them happen. ADP is a natural progression for Cauty who has been touring this new work since it was first shown at Dismaland last year. A containers touring the U.K. allowing the public to view a disaster in a fictional town in Bedfordshire.
We can only view the work via viewing ports, I’m not too sure if they are magnified or simply glass. There are literally too many to count, each one allowing to access to view this disaster zone in miniature. Some are more successful than others at what you can see, allowing you extreme or restricted views of the scene that is all but hidden. I was able to see how the piece was constructed, a series of rotating lights on a timer, moving around like helicopters over the situation below, it would have been even better to one land. With that loss there is still an abundance to see from every view-port. You could literally spend hours with this piece, so much care and attention to detail, nothings missed out, like a moment in time has been captured.
The scale of the work has blown my mind, the sheer scale of it, I hope one day to create something as large and as engaging as this. The devil really is in the detail and the mass of figures as he has brought together every conceivable accident into miniature form
I was tempted to take some photographs, I decided to hold back for a few reasons, the aura of the work was far too precious to take anything away from it. I couldn’t really do the work justice with my camera. Lastly I wanted the images to be imprinted on my memory. I can however share with you publicity stills
You can check out where the tour is heading to next here
Laying the Tracks (2016) is part of a larger body that confronts the American Holocaust through play, utilising the non-pc plastic Cowboy and Indian figures that is loaded with negative a racist connotations, having been played with generations of children who are unaware of the history in their hands.Using these figures and the expanded play-set language a more honest history is played out. Using the colours of the figures to define nations they each play out events loosely based on 19th century history. Laying the Tracks looks at the intrusion of the Iron Horse on the Indian plains of America, Yellow Indians who have moved closer to the now much depleted Buffalo for a summer hunt.
Continuing my exploration of the Western genre of cinema, focusing on the steam train. Combining found footage and model miniatures I have travelled the length of my studio at Two Queens, Leicester, U.K.