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  • Writer's pictureMadeline Shann


Updated: Apr 14, 2021

So. I've just released the final video piece from this R&D project for The Spring.

(I might keep this blog going, as my thoughts about dance and screen and form and life and nature and collapse aren't going anywhere, and it's been amazing to have somewhere to share them. Plus, I need more practice! Either way I'll return it during the next phase, for which I'm currently applying for funding, so this is not goodbye!)

I hope you enjoy it.

It's weird, which I'm happy about. It's been a while since I let myself get really weird. Really let go of the obligation to be clear and consistent, for every single thing to click and land and be in the right place at the right time. Instead to just leave the audience to curate their own experience from what's on offer a bit more.

It could go weirder, which is exciting. But it could also be a lot tighter and smarter, which is also exciting, at the end of an R&D, to have multiple directions you could go in, knowing there's still lots more for you to discover. I'm really happy to achieve some of the more elusive qualities I'd been envisaging for this project; some degree of untethering from logical narrative, a sense of trance, in places a surreal sense of low-level threat for no reason you can really put your finger on. I think I captured a lot of beauty and that's always a nice thing to be able to do.

It touches on the things I've been thinking about and wanting to try, though for now it touches on them as one might touch on things while thrashing wildly around in every direction during a fever. Eventually I hope that it will touch on them in an elegant and meticulously frenzied way, like a highly trained pianist.

The last editing process was weird. My computer was really struggling and I somehow kept losing loads of work I'd done, so it was needlessly slow and stressful, and seemed to drag on and on. It is very frustrating when you CANNOT TOUCH THE ART. I was eating snacks and chewing gum like a new ex-smoker, and there were times when I hated it so much - felt so trapped between the investment of work I'd already done and the distance left to go - that even just clicking on the program icon to warm it up gave me a cold wash of cortisol.

I realised that I had had an incredibly stupid thought that a supercut sequence would be easier to do because "its just little bits of everything"????!!!!!!!

And I had lots of thoughts I wanted to put into the blog but didn't have time because I was working on the edit!

I thought about the male gaze and how much harder it is to avoid replicating it with a lens than onstage, where the whole human person is there. I thought about how patriarchal capitalism has so utterly monopolised the image of the female body that it feels like an infection. it's in the lens, it's in my eyes, it's on the screen. I'm trying to show you something - this human being, this animal, the muscles in their back, the shape, the pooling of shadows, the way it all morphs, the way parts jump into action, and then melt away again, how like so many other mammals and amphibians it is, those levers of push and pull and strength and give, strung and bundled together and covered in skin - but I look at the image and it's already so loaded - a back, a naked back, a sexy lady-back. Is this a perfume ad? A car ad? An invitation? a sex scene? NO, IT'S JUST A GODDAMN BACK, LEAVE US ALONE!! I'm just trying to show you a back!

I thought about Stock Footage and about how the art of it seems to be to try and be as un-artistic as possible. To be clear, and often beautiful, sure. But to be artistic? To be personal? No. No no no. This has to be useable anywhere, for anything. What is the word for that? I mean it IS a craft in itself, it's smart, skilled, specific, to be able to capture that... it's just interesting to me. I couldn't get it to work the way I thought it could because it's like... too... stock footagey.

I thought about how easy it would be to fail. To get distracted, make something fun and pretty but that doesn't persuade anyone of the stakes of the health of the ecosystem, and our part in the living world and our obligation to feel that and protect it. And what a waste it would be.

I thought about how incredibly strong the transformation is when the music is applied. Music is like a skeleton key for the doors in your mind, it just does SO MUCH, makes so much more of your brain available and receptive while watching. And it completely changes the experience with even small tweaks.

I thought about how I want to have more animals in there. And maybe narration.

I wondered if I really could make something that hypnotises.

I thought about how I want more dancing, and more frustrated gaze and fragmented images. That I want more interaction between the performers and the real wild world. I want to be taken there, through them, I want to feel bark in the crook of my elbow and sweet smelling grass tickling my nose, and the hard-soft pillow of moss and rock and the snap of twigs underfoot. I want to feel warm sunshine and cold wet water.

I'm excited for the spring, and then the summer. To capture it for next time, and to feel it for real.

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