23 Jul 2014

the worlds within a film: revisiting Nigel Bunn's photography for 'Notes for a Coastline'

notes for a coastline was a 2003 film directed by Zoe Roland, for which I wrote an essayistic, poetic monologue, which was used as the basis of the voiceover which sonically "anchored" the non-narrative drift of the film.

the Dunedin Film Society asked to screen the film in their 2014 programme, on the 23rd of July, as a local example of artist-filmmaking and a short before Shirley Horrocks' documentary on the senior New Zealand photographer Marti Friedlander, Marti: The Passionate Eye

the film was finally digitised for the screening, and in dragging frames out of it I was newly struck by all the small worlds that are buried inside it, which emerged with their own beauty and texture.

these images are all sourced from the exquisite 16mm camerawork Nigel Bunn shot for the film, only one of its media. as individual frames rendered into digital stasis, they paradoxically whisper of the fluid materiality of celluloid. apart from the myriad filmic references one could mention, some of the shots remind me of Vija Celmins' drawings, and some look like early photography by Henry Fox Talbot, and some have the mystery of a box of photographs or glass magic lantern slides newly discovered in the dusty corner of an old antique store, their out-of-sequence timeline revealing a new "treasure map" buried in their relation.

it seems appropriate that they are re-shufflable in this new way as a series of found photographs, as the last line I wrote in the script was "and there is no real ending to this process, as the walking continues after the viewing is finished. as listening continues...".

thanks to Vicki Evans and the Dunedin Film Society, for giving the film its first Dunedin screening. it previously played in the New Zealand International Film Festival (Auckland and Wellington) in 2004.