The idea that the focus on materials and artistic tools can remove structural bias and assert agency is central to my research practice. The folding in of process and material to encourage embodied sensuous knowing away from dominant human-centred understandings of the world is completely relevant to my own research concerns. However, where it differs in practice is that I am interested in opening up the experiential part of the filmmaking process to include other participant voices so that engagement happens while making and subsequent viewing.

This doctoral research project applies experimental materialist filmmaking strategies to explore creative ways of working in landscapes with human and nonhuman participants. The research defines landscapes as multi-vocal gatherings of experiences and assemblages that interact in unfinished stories and therefore applies a ‘landscape-based approach’. Comprising filmmaking projects carried out during the PhD, the thesis demonstrates how embodied experimental and material methodologies that focus on process and participation can offer insights into filmmaking-as-research and the researcher-participant relationship. It illustrates how diagrams, handmade approaches and experimental techniques are dynamic methodological tools. An ongoing emergent research practice is communicated using still and moving images, diagrams, collage and writings, all undergone in the spirit of considering ways of being in landscapes, experimentation and curiosity.

Though some of the research projects take on a ‘finished form’ through past exhibitions and published or presented papers, the emphasis is around mark making to reveal human and nonhuman agency and interaction. This idea follows Kim Knowles’ revitalised materialist film theory, where material engagement in film can promote environmental awareness and new landscape- based experiences. Sensuous knowledge (Salami 2020) deprioritises power dynamics and dualistic narratives that stem from a europatriarchal worldview. Filmmaking becomes as much a mark making process as it is a research practice, and by bringing participants into the filmmaking process, with specific attention to celluloid film tactility, can instil landscape knowledge and care.

This thesis asserts that participation through interactive process-driven encounters in landscape spaces produce sensory and embodied (or sensuous) knowing. Diagrams, experimental filmmaking methods and techniques, which I define as knowledge portals, are woven into the thesis to communicate alternative ways of knowing. Tensions occur in the research practice that give way to embodied (and sometimes jarring) encounters, produced by frictions operating between chance and limitation. Finally, the research aims to explore alternative perspectives on how it might be possible to reimagine ‘nature’, not as distinct from culture, and through a filmmaking-as-research practice that communicates experiences of human and nonhuman-entangled landscape assemblages.

This film is an assemblage where different bodies or phenomena are brought into relation with each other to create new understandings. While making the work I was keen to reveal the outer edges of the 16mm film frame, which is physically produced by the camera’s aperture, and make the hedge material more visible in its black outer spaces. Revealing the hedge at the borders of the film frame was a way to align form and content: physically speaking, hedges come into existence on the unused land edges or borders between land and road. This is an example of experimental film form and content reiterating itself by drawing attention to its own construction (Rees 2011).

"Texture, in the form of material presence, is the means by which the film communicates, as it represents the meeting point of the chemical transactions and transformations – a process that, whilst invisible to us as viewers, is nonetheless contained in the images we see and also sense (Knowles 2017: 263)."

The diagram is an apt tool for embodying form and content as, rather than merely representing, it produces meaning and can aid communication beyond a single human-centred viewpoint. The diagram can describe an embodied landscape experience, interacting with other bodies. My embodied approach to knowing is expressed by amorphous shapes that can indicate shifting states and movement. They can be bodies (human / nonhuman), concepts or landscapes.

This landscape-based film is a single piece of material where participation in the landscape — human and nonhuman — is unified and embodied onto the film itself. As there are many threads that make up a film, images, sounds, multiple forms of participation and ingrained materials, then filmmaking can be described as weaving.

Generative handmade processes can encourage direct, deviated or embodied experiences. This is reflected in the assemblage of the film’s agential components: the handmade film is often made up of “chemical and natural processes that purposefully decay the film” (Zinman 2020: 23), an idea that I am putting into practice in my own work.

There is a narrative in place and what is left over from the past creeping into the present does not fit with the current story. However, it is the bits of poking out metal and conglomerate stones that I found most fascinating. In some cases, it appeared as if nature had impacted with culture with such a force that it forged new entangled entities.

Placing attention on landscapes as a unifying democratised space also provides a way into visualising the ways in which identifications to nonhuman forms can materialise. Challenging dominant modes of knowledge production and finding new participatory ways of knowing and communicating can be enlivening. My argument, here, is that a focus on chance processes can undermine limited dualistic thinking and make space for emergent knowledge. Ingold acknowledges existing in a state of process and fluidity that is in alignment with the environment itself:

"...the environment is never complete. If environments are forged through the activities of living beings, then so long as life goes on, they are continually under construction. So too are the organisms themselves... not a bounded entity but a process in real time: a process, that is, of growth or development (Ingold 2000: 20)."

Landscapes are made up of intersections and multiple temporalities that are in a constant state of change (Massey 2006). It seems necessary to expand engagements with landscape and place, to acknowledge Western humancentric positions that render landscapes as static settings for human activities, where a perception of “the setting sun” is actually the earth turning by its own force (Massey 2006: 43). An unsettling (Massey 2006) or jarring (Woodward 2020) of perspectives is needed to evoke new imaginings and experiences of landscapes so that we can “learn to be affected” (Latour, cited in Massey 2006: 43). Understanding landscapes as sensuous assemblages that can be communicated through direct or handmade filmmaking techniques is one way to learn.

ANDERSON, Gemma. 2020. ‘Relational Process as Drawing’. In Gina BUENFELD and Martin CLARK (eds.). 2020. The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and The Cosmic Tree. London: Camden Art Centre, 77–78.

INGOLD, Tim. 2000. The Perception of Environment: Essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. London: Routledge.

KNOWLES, Kim. 2017. ‘(Re)visioning Celluloid: Aesthetics of Contact in Materialist Film’. In Martine BEUGNET, Allan CAMERON and Arild FETVEIT (eds.). Indefinite Visions: Cinema and the Attractions of Uncertainty. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 257-272.

MASSEY, Doreen. 2006. ‘Landscape as a Provocation: Reflections on Moving Mountains’. Journal of Material Culture, 11(1/2), 33–48.

SALAMI, Minna. 2020. Sensuous Knowledge: A Black Feminist Approach for Everyone. London: Zed Books Ltd.

REES, A. L. 2011. A History of Experimental Film and Video. 2nd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

ZINMAN, Gregory. 2020. Making Images Move: Handmade Cinema and the Other Arts. California: University of California Press.