Becoming Granular (8 minutes)

Cast: Taiseer Fouda, Jon Davies, Yuan Quin

Music: Jan Sikl

Becoming Granular

For Becoming Granular, I wanted to explore the countryside (as compared with the city environments of the previous film), which reduced the unpredictable complexity of the visual elements. However, the dense complexity of the city encountered on foot was here compensated for by making the trip in a car, which gave us the opportunity to cross considerable distances (often at random), and so, at this speed, the potential for contingency of the countryside environment was increased. On the basis of a casting process, I selected three performers; this inspired me to alter the concept of the previous film by making the car trip twice, swapping one of the performers after the first day. The change in dynamism between the two pairs of performers had a radical influence on each trip, and so the two adjacent trips to the same destination in Wales ended up forging a different sense of atmosphere. The unique energy between the two performers influenced the spontaneous choices made about the journey itself, which altered the locations we found ourselves in (where locations were dictated by general logistics, such as the cottage that we stayed in, different navigation and use of these locations naturally emerged during filming). This, in turn, had an influence on the film material itself, giving rise to unique, singular moments in which performance and locations combined unpredictably or fortuitously.

This clip demonstrates how the filming process was integrated into the affective atmosphere, showing the simultaneous digital and analogue capture. While the iPhone camera was constantly recording, my focus was on directly participating as a performer, while intuitively choosing moments when to roll the Super 8 film. Both the digital voice recording and the Super 8 shots emerging from this process are used in the final film.

While the final film is edited entirely out of Super 8 film stock, I was nevertheless continuously getting digital footage (on an iPhone camera mounted to the Super 8 camera, but also on a separate digital camera facing the performers on the backseat of the car). Similarly to Becoming, Barcelona, the voice of the performers was being constantly recorded on their smartphones, using a hidden clip-on microphone, and this sonic element plays a key structural role in Becoming Granular. Therefore, where digital and analogue film are juxtaposed in Becoming, Barcelona, here a similar juxtaposition of digital and analogue takes place, but it affects the narrative rather than the stylistic aspect of the film, since a continuous stream of singular moments of sound recording underpin the entire film, giving it an elusive, disjointed sense of narrative.

The reflection process following Becoming, Barcelona allowed for further developments of the affective atmosphere method. Approaching the filming as a journey proved to be very productive in the previous film: it gave the film a structure, which delivers the possibility for a kind of narrative engagement while emerging organically from the process of filming. However, I now wanted to reverse the approach to the script/plan yet again, while testing the method under different circumstances. I decided to abandon a script altogether, and not provide the performers with any instructions ahead of the filming. Instead, I would be the only source of direction and of any lines of dialogue (to be mimetically repeated), other than the lines that the performers improvise themselves in the moment. However, in the process, I would increase my participation as a performer, and emphasise to the (other) performers that any line I speak can be repeated, but also responded to – with the response directed to me, to the camera, or to the other performer in front of the camera (i.e., even if I speak the line, the response does not need to be directed toward me). As part of my basic explanation of the concept ahead of the filming, I stressed to the performers that with the affective atmosphere, there is no clear separation between ‘I’ and ‘the other’, between ‘I’ and ‘the camera’, or between ‘the other’ and the ‘camera’, as well as there being no clear separation between the other performer, me as the director/performer, and the camera. Any action or response can be directed toward the other performer, me as the director (while speaking to the camera), or the camera (as if it were a mirror), irrespective of any logical or coherent development of the situation.

As we drove spontaneously through the country, immersed in the affective atmosphere, I participated directly as a performer, while the journey was being continuously recorded on a digital camera. The other two performers either repeated my lines, or responded to them, making no distinction between me and the other actor.

This clip shows my direct participation as a performer captured on an iPhone, which was attached to the Super 8 camera and was constantly recording. Such moments emerged in between the brief, precious bursts of Super 8 rolling (only three minutes per cartridge). However, the continuous audio track recorded using a hidden clip-on microphone often produced disjointed bits of voice that were later used to structure Becoming Granular.