UK, 1996, 12 minutes
B&W, Sound (Optical), 16mm
A study of time, memory and actuality that takes place in the backyard of the house where my daughter grew up.
"Prelude draws us into a state of transfixedness through the static gaze of its camera.
Looking out from an unseen window onto the backyard of an urban terraced house, we see a little girl with a watering can, playing in a strip of sunlight which runs obliquely up the frame; the filmmaker sits on a window ledge, only his legs visible, bouncing a ball. As the film progresses, other states of weather make brief appearances; the light fades in intensity or snaps back to the intense brightness. The angle of the light projected across the courtyard changes; a swing appears, casting a sharp shadow; the yard reverts to its initiial state.
Almost an essay in creating - in quietly compelling - a state of attention through a particular use of sound and image, Prelude draws our attention to the miraculous capacity of film to re-assemble a reality which we customarily take for granted. Here the reality before the camera, itself carefully assembled, is reworked as if it were memory (the footage comprising the film was shot in 1980 and 1985, but constructed into a film only recently). The ball bounces on the cement and returns to the hand that propelled it, uninterrupted, across the join between two shots, one in shadow and the other lit by brilliant sunlight. The shadow of the swing suddenly changes shape and position. The sudden disappearance and reappearance of the sound - trees rustling, traffic, pigeons cooing - seems to drop the viewer from actuality into memory and vice versa.
Beneath the impression which 'Prelude' makes at the level of representation, film's materiality is acknowledged. the fixed camera position reminds us that events in any film take place as a form of shadow-play. The flare-outs which mark the endings of rolls of film offer moments of 'pure' projector light, devoid of image despite the presence of film in the gate of the projector. The sound cuts in and out, and in places the presence of loop construction suggests itself subtly." - Nick Collins. Arts Council Programme. Tate Gallery 1997