— A beautiful yet ruthless inter-change of state.
Erosion | Inter-change of state
Relentless coastal erosion has seen many metres of land lost to the North Sea’s ravages. With the capacity to both reveal and remove, its sustained attack shapes and creates unique landscapes of which to investigate. But at a cost, as the land recedes with it homes and communities disappear.
On location at both Happisburgh and Hemsby, I was struck by the destruction thrust upon the towns coastal edges. Homes and caravan sites sat precariously close to the eroding cliff edge. Great chunks of earth had plummeted and with it roads, trees and homes. On the beach, lay half submerged brickwork and metal objects, remnants of engulfed buildings and old military pillboxes. The most startling aspect of the terrain was the absent space along the cliff’s edge where homes had once clearly stood. This was dramatic evidence of the cost of erosion upon these communities and individual lives.
The film records the physical traces of erosion upon the coastline using the photographic nature of cine film. Through experimentation with the mediums susceptibility to external forces such as the sea, weathering and physical corruption by hand, it constructs an experience of the landscape exposing the eternal conflict between land and sea.
The photosensitive properties of film stock represent weakness: celluloid is susceptible to external influences and can be altered and even destroyed. To reflect the erosion process, experiment led me to expose the reel of film directly to the sea. ‘Sea wave erosion is accomplished primarily by hydraulic pressure, the impact of waves striking the shore, and by the abrasion (wearing, grinding, or rubbing away by friction) by sand and pebbles agitated incessantly by water’.
The soundtrack produced by Demain Castellanos comprises entirely from a one-minute looped field-recording of waves breaking on the shore. The recording was looped and as each loop progressed manipulated, using purely outboard effects for an organic and analogue sound quality. Effects applied were distortion, phaser, flanger, reverb, reverse reverb, all short reflection delays that enhanced tones from the original sound source. These effects were recorded back into the original recording until the ‘waves’ became a wash of sound taking on a violent, corrosive and destructive form.
Drawing attention to this beautiful yet ruthless inter-change of state, I present an alternative perspective from which to observe our eroding coastline and perhaps momentarily change the way we look at it.
Film screened at:
The London Short Film Festival, Celluloid Traces Program, ICA, London. 2019
NUA Selected Works Programme, Curzon Cinema, Soho, London. 2018