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    Landscape's emergence through film: exploring dwelling, ways and objects with Scottish and Swedish non-fiction films

    Evans, Richard (2021) Landscape's emergence through film: exploring dwelling, ways and objects with Scottish and Swedish non-fiction films. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    This thesis concerns landscape, film and their connections. I contend that landscape emerges through film, not because of film’s reanimation of past events, but because it itself is landscape, is made from the stuff of landscape itself. While landscape is often connected with backdrop, painting, scenery, the Picturesque, countryside, tourism or views, my focus is on how, when we deal with film, we deal with landscape itself. I explore landscape therefore not as re-presentations of received, ocularcentric, idealised landscapes, but consider its material constituents with whom the camera and operator interacted. I examine a corpus of non-fiction films (best described as “useful cinema” – see Acland and Wasson 2011) from two archives, both housed in national libraries: the Moving Image Archive at the National Library of Scotland and a subset of films archived in the National Library of Sweden. These films do not always make landscape their explicit subject or object. Rather, they register landscape’s emergence in the course of their various official purposes, and underscore that filmmaking is practiced amongst the landscape. The camera and its operator interact as landscape objects amongst their fellow objects. With these films I tackle three themes in a sequence of chapters: Dwelling; Ways; and Objects. The trajectory that unfolds in these chapters concerns landscape as material, actual, definitive – not locked away in idealised impressions of the real thing with words, paint or postcards. With dwelling I describe humans’ relationship to landscape. I highlight different interactions between humans and their fellow landscape constituents, known as dwelling acts. I argue that one such act is filmmaking itself, that place emerges only within dwelling and that the films’ have their ultimate ties to landscape through dwelling. Ways link landscape objects together, convey objects amongst the landscape and draw in objects to them. I show how they pervade and condition landscape as hyperobjects (Morton 2013), such as rivers, paths, roads and invisible routes. I let the camera become a talisman that experiences and demonstrates all these three aspects for itself. It reveals how entities only ever encounter a minute part of a way at any time and that ways are instrumental on forming and reforming their fellow landscape objects. Objects, three in particular, feature as examples of particular objects familiar to all readers: water, trees and rock. Whilst each is unique and interacts with other objects, consistent with their own qualities, I point out they also share a structuring role in common. They undergird and give shape to other landscape entities. The films in this chapter show the different processes and instrumental roles of these objects. With this, I argue that landscape cannot be reduced to intangible, idealised abstractions. Landscape has its basis in material actuality, where real objects constantly collide that make and re-make it. The thesis therefore captures how landscape emerges through film via a narrowing field, from human involvement in dwelling, through ways, to more specific objects. I show how landscape emerges, firstly, through the camera and its operator’s interactions with the objects they encounter and record at the time. Secondly, I explore how landscape also emerges through film itself (each film frame, the film strip, the final edited film object). Here, filmic landscape is made out of actual landscape, its raw material, emerging or appearing when enabled to play its series of consecutively arranged images. If film can indeed be landscape, then the relationship between landscape and film inheres in, is native to, the object itself. This possibility simultaneously questions how we might think about film and challenges us to re-evaluate what the object we deal with is when it comes to film.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2021 16:53
    Last Modified: 25 May 2022 11:45
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/46803

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