This is what Fiona McCade had to say about Stay the Same in the Scotsman on Thursday 9th Feb. I am posting it here because although there is much I disagree with, I found it quite interesting as a response to the film and it got me thinking.
I particularly liked hearing about her “Fiona Through The Years Photos”. I agree with her that her pictures may not currently be of any artistic value, but the same was true of my old passport photos until I turned them into ID. It is also true of the old photos in the Back to the Future project (pictured left) which I posted a few months ago and of the footage I am currently collecting every day when I am filming. It is what you do with these pictures or moving images, the raw materials of a film, that gives them artistic value and makes them more or less interesting.
The question of how you quantify artistic value and what should be paid for publicly is a whole other issue, which I don’t have the answers for (and thankfully don’t have to). Fiona seems to suggest that the only value of importance is current popularity, but there is a difference between what is popular in the immediate and what will stand the test of time and have lasting value. My sense is that this is about depth of meaning and I hope this is what will distinguish Stay the Same from the photo every day trend and cats with bread on their heads. (Although I also believe you could probably make an interesting film using either as raw material and am always up for a challenge if anyone would like to commission me to do so!).
I would love to see Fiona’s Paris photos and wonder whether in the right hands, and with Fiona’s participation, they could be made into an interesting film.
If anyone has a collection of photos like Fiona’s please get in touch email@example.com
PS. Surely a hammer is only a hammer because it isn’t used for anything else?
“WHEN I was seven, I went to Paris for the first time and my mum took a photo of me standing in front of a fountain in the Tuileries Gardens. I don’t go to Paris as much as I’d like, but every time I’ve returned, I’ve got someone to take a photo of me in exactly the same place and same position, so I now have a cool little collection of Fiona Through The Ages, in all weathers, getting older and older. I was just wondering: would you like to buy this memento of me? How about I give you all the photos of me and you give me £10,000? No? Why not?
Don’t be so quick to turn up your noses. The British Film Institute and Creative Scotland have given £10,000 of your tax and lottery money to an artist called Sam Firth to spend on an art project which involves her going out every day at 8:30am and filming herself standing silently and still for ten minutes in exactly the same place – in front of a loch on the Knoydart peninsula. She’s going to do this for a year, then edit the footage into a 20-minute film to be called Stay The Same, although I doubt that she (or the Knoydart peninsula) will manage to stay even slightly the same every single day, given the weather up there.
If Creative Scotland wants this film to showcase Scotland, they should probably ask Sam to budge over a bit, because the stills I’ve seen are all about her head and not the spectacular scenery behind it. But pure art would have no such base motives. I spent time at university learning about what constitutes art, so to spare you the student debt, and for no charge whatsoever, here is what I learned. You know something is art when it’s no use for anything else. Ergo, Ms Firth is definitely an artist. She’s not a bad one, either. I’ve seen some of her other work and I enjoyed it. She made a great little film about her intestinal fauna.
The trouble is that this new project doesn’t have quite such an original premise, since there are an awful lot of us out there filming or photographing ourselves at regular intervals. I don’t want any artists to starve in garrets, but given the current financial situation, here’s a wild idea: maybe they could create their work and then sell it? Like artists used to?
I’m happy for Ms Firth to do her thing – even if I did have the idea first and it’s cost me a fortune in air fares – but wouldn’t it have been cheaper if she’d paid for the camera and the memory card herself, then us taxpayers could wait and see if we like what she comes up with?
My holiday snaps may not merit a payout from the public purse, but my artistic sensibilities are not dead. In fact, I’ve had a great idea.
Right now, there are millions of people online, actively searching for films and photos of cats wearing hats made of bread. “Cat breading” is HUGE. We will PAY to see cats in hats made of bread. Cat breading counts as real art because nothing on earth is more useless for any practical purpose than cats dressed up in baked goods. So I shall decorate my two cats with slices of finest multigrain and take hundreds of photos that all look practically the same. Cat after cat, with slices of bread around their heads.
If I edit together 365 photos of my breaded cats and make a film of them, I’ll be a proper artist. I know, it’s sacrilege to suggest that art should please the masses, but at least I’m not asking the masses to subsidise me unless they want to. Fortunately, I reckon there are millions of private patrons out there who are willing to pay for my work. For an outlay of £1.20 per loaf and some cans of Whiskas, I could make a tidy profit – and even more if I use discount thin-sliced white.”
Fiona McCade, The Scotsman
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