play: Margaret Raspé - "Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow – Let Them Swing"

So well into the new year and back on the blog from rather a long hiatus! I still haven't quite as yet developed a system for blogging to write more consistently. I always think, tomorrow and once you know it, months have passed and you've forgotten the event!

So today I thought I'd write on the day of the event whilst it is fresh in my mind. 

Today's trip involved seeing a film by the Scottish Experimental filmmaker Margaret Tait as part of the Glasgow Film Festival. However this post is about the short film that preceded it by a German filmaker/artist - Margaret_Raspé whom I didn't know about before today.


Camera Helmet


The 1974 film shot on Super 8 (a medium I've yet to try but would so love love to!) is only 20mins and essentially films the process of washing up a load of dirty dishes. Yes, I'm totally not going to look at my dirty dishes routine in quite the same way!

A seemingly simple concept but the film was not only filmed silent which threw lots of interesting ideas but filming wise, Margaret constructed a 'camera helmet' - which almost looks like some kitchen bowl with a super 8 screwed onto it and to me is utterly brilliant in terms of construction, idea and aesthetics.

It is almost some  form of analogue virtual reality mediator - (these ideas and words I need to dissect in another post of 'colander as escapism'!). Her intention was to film exactly what she was seeing/experiencing whilst washing dirty dishes in progress.  Initially you may wonder what you might get in watching this piece. However, you often forget the rhythm and flows in the day to day tasks of the domestics - more often that not, they're probably done with some form of disdain or on auto drive.  As Margaret Raspé says: 
Dish washing seems to be one of the most annoying parts of housework. In the film it is the fluttering rhythm of work. The landscape of dishes moves from right to left, through water, composing another form. (1)
I was actually hypnotised by the repetitive gestures of picking up the dirty dishes, water running and occasional squirt of washing up liquid. There were also the details of certain particularly grubby dishes and cups with dregs of coffee (it seemed). There is also the nostalgia element with kitchen-ware reminiscent of the 70s, certain types of colours and forms - the bright orange possibly plastic tray, all heightened in effect with the Super 8 film. 

Here is another thing to think about regarding time and aesthetics at the time of creation and the feeling created from the piece at that time, then fast forwarding into the future when those aesthetics are either distantly experienced at a younger age or not experienced at all but the viewer still relates to it due to 'retro/vintage/nostalgia' placings in contemporary life/culture. Memory, time, materiality....themes which are close to my heart and part of my own work.


Still from the film i



Still from the film ii


Moving onto another part of the aesthetics is the sound - in this case the sound of silence but as they say silence can be deafening.  Here, the silence exaggerated all other sounds around the screening itself including faint murmurings from the bar next to the cinema room to tummies growling through to me trying to quietly gulp my coffee! Its a rarity to be enveloped in silence, no ear lids for the ears as they say. 

During the film, with no sound it was as though my brain was filling in the gaps and some. I'm not sure if there is term for this in the realm of sound/neuro studies & research. The gushing of tap water, clanking of plates, squeaking from rubbing the cups - the familiarity of these daily sounds are archived within the brain and ready to play once the memory jukebox is initiated, which in this case are the images of the objects. 

Lots of elements to ponder on including the feminist aspect and domesticity in art forms (thinking about Martha Rosler's piece - Semiotics of the Kitchen here). Another post on another day!

Perhaps tomorrow I'll wear earplugs whilst washing up and re-live the experience....

(1) https://lux.org.uk/work/tomorrow-and-tomorrow-and-tomorrow-let-them-swing

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