Civil Disobedience is a London based techno label. I was approached by them to film an art piece to be premiered at a label party where the theme would be “bursting bubbles” a term can be applied to many different things but generally refers to the protection of a fragile state, and one that could collapse at any moment. They had also enlisted the talents of Vanessa Kisuule, an artist and performer who had scooped a number of titles on the slam poetry scene with the shoot to take place in her home town of Bristol. In preparation for the shoot we explored the idea of bubbles being a front or a facade and delving into what lies behind the facade of gentrification in the concrete foundations and roots beneath. There were of course many ways to explore that visually by juxtaposing modern glass and steel buildings with dilapidated backstreets and root like pipes and cables.
Despite living just a few miles down the road from Bristol it is a place I’ve spent very little time in, so my knowledge of the area was limited. But one location that had caught my eye on the occasional trip was the abandoned postal sorting office besides Temple Meads Station. I had used it as a backdrop previously in a vlog and it was to serve as the perfect location for the opening shots of the video. Positioning Vanessa in front of the building with it’s exposed concrete floors and behind a steel fence provided a captivating frame of parallax-scrolling industrial layers that played perfectly into the theme of moving through barriers and peeling layers back.
One of the most striking works of poetry I’ve ever read is Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy”. For me the metaphor of ’the journey’ is one of the most powerful tropes within art. For this shoot it gave us our drive and a means to go on a treasure hunt between pre-scouted locations, trying to find the scene that would fit with the verses of Vanessa’s poem.
The whole video was filmed on a Sony NXCAM with high frame rate. This provided a much sharper and more edgy look that the traditional movie blur that comes from filming at a more standard 25 frames per second on a DSLR. When colouring I drew upon perhaps my favourite music video of all time – Leftfield’s “Africa Shox”, directed by Chris Cunningham. This video uses very murky and desaturated colours to make the filmic world seem all the more cold and hard for the fragile subject of the video. In the case of our video I too desaturated but then coloured with a palate of taupe and grey, something commonly used in modern combat movies and games to not only provide a degree of hardness but to further amp up the warring cadence of Vanessa’s slam style. The final result a stark, edgy and impactful art piece.