Michael Fletcher has posted his first trailer for our current Ninety Degrees 5 – South West Light project. It is an introduction to the project as a visual investigation of our relationship to and engagement with the cultures, environments, places, and events that define the South West of Western Australia; its diversity, majestic, and enduring presence both as an imagined land and a constructed landscape. As we photograph and write, Michael films and edits.
But beyond the images, the edits, our words and deeds, lies the contested temporality of film and photography. The juxtaposition of stilled and moving images in Michael’s trailer recall Lacan’s distinction between ‘the real’ and ‘reality’, between the demonstrated and the displayed. This is not pre-linguistic imaginary, nor Kant’s ‘thing-in-itself’, but something that transcends language. It remains essentially ‘unknowable’ except for the shared sense underlying its presence; like the inside behind the outside, that felt something that lingers still.
This disruption between fact and fiction, narrative and non-narrative, and the corresponding complexities of collective memory and remembering, also inscribes our feelings. Not as felt at the time, nor thought of, but as demonstrated. This presence and simultaneous absence is what makes photography most remarkable. We know its ‘reality’ only by other means. It ‘is my son (in the photograph) though he is not here’. It is as Barthes explains in Camera Lucida, ‘a certain but fugitive testimony’.
Phenomenologically film and photography also share the technology of temporal dislocation, where photography’s frozen fragment is displaced and reassembled into a filmic continuum. The world becomes a photographable present; a moment described with a past whose reputation defends its presence. This physical and metaphorical interface between cinema and photography moves me with the logic of emotion. Moreover the photograph though ‘putting us in the presence of something’ transcends mere indexicality because it touches us more than the objects, moments, events and places it rubs up against. The idea always remains richer than the actual.
Michael’s idea, of time and place projected through the experience of being there, choreographs these affinities and eases the tensions; between film and photography, the past and the present, the aesthetic and the materialist, the permanent and the transcendent. His films construct a shared past as the basis for our group identity. In the end it is about being together, admiration, friendship, cooperation and artistic revelations. His films transport us between a stilled moment and the flux of eternity, and beyond ourselves and our illusions. Michael is also my close friend and collaborator.