Film as Fabric, Lace and Thread (2014)

Film as Fabric, Lace and Thread 

20 mins | 2014 

As part of Spaces, a major collaborative project of 2014 between Video Jam and Slip imprint resulting in a UK tour, artist filmmaker Mary Stark and composer Chaines (Caroline Haines) were commissioned to produce a new audio/visual work, developed over a period of 6 months. Supported by Arts Council England.

Film as Fabric was bourne out of shared interests in female voice, technology, gender, obsolescence, and industry. The final piece, a 16mm film performance with accompanying sound, was influenced by Mary’s artistic background in textiles and her current research into dialogue between textile and filmmaking practice, drawing on chants sung by lace makers called lace making tales, and the overlooked historical relationships between the mechanisms of the film projector and the sewing machine. Mary’s recorded voice was used as an element within the soundtrack as a way to explore intimate words hidden in sketchbooks and conversations embedded in making processes. The final piece - an expanded film performance with pre-recorded sound - involves textile patterns transforming into intense moving images in a cameraless 16mm black and white film. Fabric, lace ribbon and thread have been placed directly onto lengths of film before exposing it to light and developing it in chemicals in a dark room using the photogram technique first used by Man Ray in his 'rayograms'. 

“Spaces has been key in terms of the development of performance within my experimental film practice. It has been extremely valuable to consider different sites in a touring scenario making quick decisions in a venue and often rehearsing with awareness of the specifics of a given space, the audience placement, other bands and artists. Working with Caroline was a true collaboration; we both gained new skills and expanded our individual understanding. The whole experience of Spaces has been enriching creatively as well as building my confidence and technical abilities as a live experimental film performer in a variety of different venues." - Mary Stark

“Working with Video Jam has been particularly instructive in relation to my practice. In particular, I have learned a great deal about the importance of venue acoustics when playing a fixed acousmatic track through a sound system. A room will change the way a track sounds far more than one may initially think, even if you use the same speakers. It has been a pleasure to work with visual artist Mary Stark, and the issues raised in her work have since become important to me, especially when considering how to approach an audio visual collaboration.” - Chaines 

Mary Stark’s practice seeks to create noisy feminist presence within experimental film. Recent films derive 'voices' from fabric through the photographic filmmaking technology of optical sound. Her practice has shifted towards tactile experimental film performance involving light, shadow and spoken word, placing the film editing bench and the cinematic apparatus centre stage. She is enchanted by the sculptural material qualities of the filmstrip independent of the projector and film projection as a site of delight, wonder and imagination. Mary’s work has developed over the last year through international artist residencies at the LIFT, Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto and at La Escocesa Studios, Barcelona.  

Chaines constructs strangely compelling layers of synthesizer, freakish vocals and home-made instrumentals. Her love for synthesised sound began with her first instrument, a Yamaha keyboard. Since joining the Royal Northern College of Music in 2009, she has written a number of pieces for electronic media, orchestra and tape. Chaines is interested in creating a landscape of sound where the differences between acoustic and electronic sounds are not as important as their relationships to one another. Especially important in her work is a sense of narrative drive, brought about by overarching linear structures taking the listener through a range of emotions and sensations.