was watching you on VHS back when I first discovered I could rent Re:voir tapes from the local video shop in Berlin. It was a strangely memorable viewing, one which coloured my visit. But where did I first see your films? How did I know of them in the first place?
Thinking back. It seems as if the memory of seeing these films, of where they rest in the mind, how they appear in recollection, is most significant.
What then, do I remember? I remember the deer in the headlights suddenly conjured up for a second or less amidst a flurry of frames in Anticipation of the Night.
I remember the deep deep colours of Black Ice, and titles like Autumnal and Ephemeral Solidity, which stayed with me simply as phrases, like little poetic reference points, although I couldn't visualise clearly the images they represented.
I remember the silence, sitting on the bed , the buzz of the VHS player, the warm September night in a sub-rented apartment.
Maybe the very act of remembering these films is so significant because they seem to occupy part of my mind which is usually reserved for very old memories. It's as though the films pre-existed somewhere deep within my being before the actual formation of the memory of seeing them. Yet, knowing this must be due to the nature of the films themselves, as well as the nature of memory itself, makes it none the less poignant to me.
Perhaps the deer image is familiar from early childhood, winding through country lanes at night, sleeping in the back of the car, then my dads voice or both my parents in unison: "deer!" -and the car would slow abruptly, my instinctive look up through the car windscreen, the light, a strangely domestic, man-made light carried into such a wilderness of journeys, and it falling upon the movement, the living movement, a creature in flesh and blood, for an instant and then gone. This image appearing often amidst sleep, in the first few eye movements after waking from my half conscious state.
Driving with my parents at night, a quintessential image of childhood, an obvious one, but how real, how simple and innocent those journeys were (seated in the dark with the motor and the lights -like cinema itself.)
This memory itself would be my personal "Passage Through" - which brings me to another memory of seeing your films -this time a print, an audience, a screen, and even sound! The whole thing like music, magic, self contained reality, took me completely inside. I cannot clearly describe what I remember of that film. Just some shots around silhouetted doorways and corners, the domestic space in shadows, deep shadows. The gaps -either in the image (as black) or in the soundtrack (as silence) -forming an open structure of form and space which seemed to settle gradually within the body as you viewed the film. The rhythm, the ritual, the whole thing woven together as experience - abstract and formal yet visceral and alive, like breathing or patterns of consciousness.
To see this film was to live this duration, to sense this form.
I tried to convey to my friend afterwards, one of the organisers of the screening, that this was the best film experience of my life, but the words didn't make any sense once the lights were back on.
I may have been right. But life is a tangled messy web of realities and meaning, as many filmmakers have known and demonstrated.
I wonder how you feel about this? I realise I know very little about you, yet often I think of your films very differently to those of the others.
I wonder if childhood is something we can only explore with the parallel understanding of our adult selves. To do otherwise would be an unbalanced and ultimately insane attempt to emanate our lost innocence. But is the question then always how to continue this fine line between autonomy and conscious vision? And I wonder also if you found that balance yourself?
Im sure there are many answers to be read in your own books and the many theories surrounding your work. The times I return again and again to Dog Star Man (particularly Prelude) always give a little more insight, always another angle to think about. But for now I must also ask: how does it all look now, from where you are?
James Edmonds, 2015/2016