Volume 2 - Issue 6 - Editorial

This must be the place…


"One of the joys our technological civilization has lost is the excitement with which seasonal flowers and fruits were welcomed; the first daffodil, strawberry or cherry are now things of the past, along with their precious moment of arrival." – Derek Jarman

Good things come to those who wait, murmurs the adage. Now, if the late, great Derek Jarman is right (and he is), you don’t even have to wait any more. But is what you get any good? Whether it’s flowers, fruits or films, our society finds itself now on the strange threshold between constantly increasing anticipation – either reasonably harmless (next year’s holiday booked immediately after this one, etc.) or altogether more sinister (daily trumpeting of ‘imminent terrorist attacks) – and instant satiation of all sensual demands. Add in the prerogatives of the information age, the impacts of globalisation and the mind-altering insights of the new physics and it’s clear that time, or our perception of it, is now more complex and fluid than ever. But time, and experience as a register of its working, operates somewhere, in and on bodies and places.

This is what makes Jarman’s observation so bittersweet but true. Linking location (and its harvest), weather, taste and desire, he emphasises in the lightest of ways the potential (or lost) fecundities and rewards of a keen attention to place. For Jarman, and most of us, such a sense of place might be one arrived at without undue hardship. However, as almost every news bulletin now makes clear, place – who owns it, who fences it, who controls its resources – is again the pre-eminent physical and conceptual arena of conflict globally. From Iraq to Palestine and Central Asia to ‘Fortress Europe’; from the ‘non-places’ of corporate urban development to keenly defended local amenities and from the Kalahari to Northern Ireland, acknowledging the place of place, and one’s ability to move through it (or not), is now pivotal to understanding the current order.

Clearly, the nature and role of the moving image is, in turn, central to that process. As a (virtual) space of its own, film is uniquely endowed with qualities that can fruitfully serve our interrogations of extant territories and the implications for societies that live within them. It goes without saying, of course, that the politics of real geographies spill into the image zone, inevitably and normally with arch enthusiasm. What is seen and not, where is represented (and by whom)… the established hierarchies, agendas and ‘truth’ around seeing have not left the shot. Far from it.

At the same time, it is equally true that it doesn’t get any safer reporting from regions in the frontline. The increasing numbers of journalists and camera-people killed testifies brutally to that. That said, new technologies are allowing images to escape from authoritarian areas, as well as changing fundamentally how we consider actual space and the experiences and memories it generates.

Vast subject, only 56 pages… We have tried in this issue to raise some of these questions – and concerns – by looking at generally less familiar moving image work from across the world and across disciplines, offering sketches towards maps of these ‘other’ image territories, hoping to prompt further exploration.

If this talk of ‘sketching’ sounds like a hedging of results, rest assured that we are extremely grateful to all our writers for their striking and illuminating contributions. They, like us, appreciate that any examination of sometimes more ‘marginalised’ film will inevitably raise issues around the place of certain moving images in a democratic culture, and around the place of constructive criticism of that culture.

In an associated vein, it is unfortunately necessary to note the price rise from this issue on. This is not done out of choice: it simply reflects the harsh economics of specialist magazine publication. However, we have increased the pagination to soften the blow slightly and encourage subscriptions.

Thank you again, writers and readers alike, for your continued support. As Derek Jarman noted, place is nothing if it is not shared and celebrated and so we invite you to join us for the launch of this issue at the Curzon Soho cinema, London this 28th February from 6pm, for films and conversation. There are many more journeys to be made, many more places to visit…


Apology

In the previous issue we referred to a film still by Stan Brakhage (pg 7) as Prelude. It should have read Prelude 1.