Stay the Same

Time by Sam Spreckley
7 April 2014, 1:59 pm
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I thought I would share this lovely short film called Time by Sam Spreckly also showing at the Royal Scottish Academy Annual Exhibition in the same programme as Stay the Same. It captivated us at the private view and I could watch it over and over . .

<p><a href=”″>T i m e</a> from <a href=””>sam spreckley</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>




A History of the Sky
9 July 2012, 1:00 pm
Filed under: ALL, Related films, Responses to the project

A years timelapse study of they sky. Each pixel is a day.

Thank you Alasdair.

Response #25 Overtime by Claudia Firth

My older sister, Claudia Firth, is also an artist. There are many ways in which our lives our weirdly parallel despite her living in the centre of London and I in the north-west of Scotland.  A couple of years ago Claudia started a project called Overtime. From her home in the Oxo Tower, a housing co-operative of around one hundred people, she can see many central London offices. Over the years she had noticed that there was always one man working overtime. Even when the lights in the all surrounding buildings were turned off his would be on, in evenings and at weekends. So she began taking pictures of him every day.

She says of the photos:

“This project came out of my own experiences as an “incapacitated” worker. Often at home in my flat not able to work because of a chronic health condition, I spent time watching and thinking about the offices that surrounded my building. I began to notice that even very late at night the office opposite my flat would be occupied with a lone worker and I decided to photograph him. I wanted to use long exposure photography to capture some of the time this man was working particularly after the normal 9-to-5. The photographs are stolen images, taken without his knowledge, but somehow I imagined them creating a relationship between us. Being faced, myself, with a feeling of a sort of suspension of normal time through illness, I felt that there was a kind of inverse relationship with this worker who always seemed to be there, sometimes even when I went to bed and again when I got up in the morning.”

These pictures couldn’t be more different from my project, they are covert, anonymous, and within a cityscape. The man is enveloped from the seasons by the warmth and light of his office, yet my film is about being exposed to and part of the natural environment.

There is definitely a sense though, in which Claudia’s photographs and the story behind them make you connect with this anonymous worker. I used to watch him working when I visited my sister and wonder about his life and what it was that made him spend all of his time in his office, but now I’m not so sure my experience is really that different. This unknown the man and I are isolated in our own ways, constantly propelled forward  towards our own goals.

In my last post I wrote about a lack of happy endings, but I think it was as much about the lack of endings per se. I have been getting myself through this project by fixing on an end point, the date I finish filming. When in actuality this will be just the beginning of editing this film. At times it feels like continually climbing a mountain with never-ending summits and I often wonder when it is you  get to go downhill.

But maybe its just a matter of stopping every now and then to take in the view, notice what you have and how far it is you have come already.

Time Piece by Jim Henson
1 May 2012, 12:41 am
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Just as I was starting to despair with the internet (see last post) thanks to Matt Hulse on facebook of all places I discovered Jim Henson’s 1965 experimental film Time Piece, below, which I’d never seen before and is a bit wonderful. The film was nominated for an Oscar and Henson made the first episode of Sesame Street three years later. Just goes to show you never know where making short experimental films about time can lead to.

Dog takes his photo every day for a year
26 April 2012, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Related films

Lots of people have been sending me videos and clips from you tube of people growing old, growing beards, travelling around the world taking their pictures every day.  There are so many of them out there that there is now even a subsection parodying the original ones. I watched a lot of them before the project began and put my favourite up last June. Here is a link to the original post.

It’s been interesting thinking about the relationship between these films and what I am doing, which I hope will be quite different.  I think maybe the phenomena of these films is as interesting than the films themselves. Like watching  random algal blooms in a vast ocean, a You Tube film becomes popular then millions more like it appear, then millions more referencing the original one. The internet is like a weird travelling fair full of novelties, freaks and curios all crying out for you to take a peep. Then, every now and then, just for a second, someone shows you something truly funny or beautiful. Sadly, just like in real life, those moments are few and far between.

Tim MacMillan experiments in film and time
8 April 2012, 4:08 pm
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Moving pictures have been used to explore our perceptions of time since their invention. When Tim MacMillan was at art school at Bath Academy in the 1980’s he experimented using multiple cameras to create different viewpoints of the same space. When these multiple viewpoints are spliced in to one film it feels like time has been frozen. The result is a tracking shot through space.

Here is a peice about the technique from Tomorrows World 1994.

And one of his early art school films Ferment which travels from death through life to birth.

Since making films at art school Tim has developed his technique and now runs a company specialising in what he calls Time Slice. This  is now used in mainstream films and was made famous by The Matrix bullet scenes. Part of me wishes though, that he had let someone else develop the timeslice product and carried on making his own films.

If you like this post you might also be interested in Solargraphs.

The psychology of time perception
28 March 2012, 7:38 pm
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There is a developing psychology of time perception, which suggests our relationship to time affects how happy we are. Below is a fantastic animated illustration of Professor Philip Zimbardo’s theories on this.

I love that where you live in relation to the equator affects your perception of time.  You can also hear more about Robert Levine’s studies on pace of life on the Radiolab Cities episode. (I am very tempted to compare average walking speed and how long it takes to post a parcel in Knoydart. I have a feeling it might be a lot slower.)

Follow this link to take the Zimbardo Time Perception test yourself and find out whether you are too hedonistic, fatalistic or able to exercise delayed gratification.. I scored OK on the time perception test, but I have a feeling I would have failed miserably at the  Marshmallow Experiment (see below) as a child, which is a shame as all future success in life seems to be based on it.

Cesar Kuriyama – One second every day
26 March 2012, 10:33 am
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Cesar Kuriyama is making a film using one second of film from each day of his life from. He started on his 30th birthday which, coincidentally, was the same week I started filming Stay the Same.  His is a fascinating and incredibly ambitious project also about time, memory and the desire to capture all of lifes experience somehow. Here is what he has recorded so far.

Kuriyama’s project makes my painfully slow film making process seem like a breeze. His film, if he continues, will only truly be finished when he dies. In the TED blog he says he believes that the film will be how he remembers his entire life. The act of documenting and creating of images definitely changes the way in which we remember and construct our own narratives. But I am not sure if we can know in advance how we will remember things. It is a really interesting question. It is going to be equally interesting to follow Kuriyama’s project and see.  It makes me think that it would be great if Cesar Kuriyama and Jonas Mekas could meet.

Thanks again to Simon Lynch (see previous blog) for sending me the link to Kuriyama’s work.

#24 Simon Lynch who I haven’t seen in ten years

Simon saw this project in the papers and got in touch through facebook last month. I went to university with Simon. We also worked together as interns in the Labour party media unit in ’97  helping make short films about how great the new Labour government was going to be (we were young!). As a result of this all we spoke on the phone for the first time in at least ten years last week. Afterwards he wrote me an email (which he agreed I could quote here!). He said “Often, ‘life’ seems to get in the way of keeping in touch with anyone – don’t even think this is a pre/post Internet thing – there just is no time… Which is exactly what I may or may not have been able to say to you about your project [on the phone]. When I look at what you are doing, I feel an extreme jealousy of your choice. Yesterday, we were busy. Today, we have no time. For anything. Maybe the story of what you are doing is about both ‘recording’, but also ‘re-calibrating’ time? Placing a stop on the constant flow of stuff and finding another way of dealing with it. Perhaps I am just projecting my own personal desires.  Anyway, I still think the angle of other people doing the same thing could produce a great piece of work.

I like the phrase “re-calibrating time”.

Simon sent me some links. One to Noah Kalina‘s everyday project, one to Cesar Kuriyama who is editing together a second of film from each day of his life and and one to the work of Jamie Livingston.  Livingston documented his life with a polaroid photo every day between March 31st 1979 and October 25th 1997 when he died of a brain tumor. He was an artist, filmmaker and circus performer. The pictures are publishe here. They are incredibly rich and moving.

These peices also relate to Jeff Harris’ 4784 Self Portraits and Jonas Mekas As I Was Moving Ahead I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty. They are all about our relationship with time, memory, personal narrative, representation and the visual image.

Simon is convinced I should create a peice of work about people who are documenting their lives in this way. In many ways this is exactly what this website is an attempt to do.  I have always seen the site as a peice of work in itself.  Alongside documenting the process of making the film, the website documents the research and development of ideas behind the film. A film which in itself is about the desire to document.

New work will almost certainly come out of this process. But it’s good to be reminded of this as sometimes I forget.

The Story of Self
10 March 2012, 12:26 pm
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I read this article in the guardian by Charles Fernyhough which connets with a lot the research I have been doing recently in to memory and self, as our perceptions of time and narrative are very much related to memory. I’m really looking forward to reading his book.

Our ability to remember forms the basis of who we are and is a psychological trick that fascinates cognitive scientists. But how reliable are our memories?

Memory is our past and future. To know who you are as a person, you need to have some idea of who you have been. And, for better or worse, your remembered life story is a pretty good guide to what you will do tomorrow. “Our memory is our coherence,” wrote the surrealist Spanish-born film-maker, Luis Buñuel, “our reason, our feeling, even our action.” Lose your memory and you lose a basic connection with who you are.

It’s no surprise, then, that there is fascination with this quintessentially human ability. When I cast back to an event from my past – let’s say the first time I ever swam backstroke unaided in the sea – I don’t just conjure up dates and times and places (what psychologists call “semantic memory”). I do much more than that. I am somehow able to reconstruct the moment in some of its sensory detail, and relive it, as it were, from the inside. I am back there, amid the sights and sounds and seaside smells. I become a time traveller who can return to the present as soon as the demands of “now” intervene.

To read the rest of this article follow this link

Charles Fernyhough is a writer and psychologist. His book on autobiographical memory, Pieces of Light: How we Imagine the Past and Remember the Future, is published by Profile Books in July. He is the author of The Baby in the Mirror (Granta), a reader in psychology at Durham University and a faculty member of the School of Life. You can follow him on Twitter at @cfernyhough

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