Thursday, November 15, 2007

Looking For Truth

For the past few months we have been made aware of the inaccuracies and half truths constructed by the television media to create revenue and engage audiences, if you have called any competition telephone lines for the variety of programmes which hold home viewing audience participation quizzes then you will be no doubt aware of the methods of our television companies to increase and retain audience figures for their programming. Similarly as you smart about the potential disingenuous acquisition of funds generated from your phone call you will no doubt also be aware of the production methods of documentary makers, the ‘careful’ editing of these films to create mood and to fully put across the messages the filmmaker intends is obvious in hindsight and only but a few would be shocked at this revelation. Michael Moore admitted to this only too happily recently, his honest and open response to such charges showed that many filmmakers are clear that the story is most important and the naivety of some audience members is not their responsibility.
But what of documentary makers of the past?, surely their methods were much more honest. Oh dear, how naïve could we be?, since the beginnings of photography and then filmmaking the crafted filmmaking processes for factual, documentary films have always been subordinate to the message or story.
It is this ambiguous territory of fiction in fact that interests Damien Roach, his current exhibition at IBID PROJECTS contains references to these constructed realities in a variety of forms. On entering the gallery you will bathed in red light, the obvious feel of a darkroom in which images are manipulated and created insinuates itself to you as you engage with Roach’s sculptural works, the sound that you hear is from an LP called ‘Sounds of a Tropical Rainforest in America’, the sounds this LP contains creates the sounds of a rainforest, it is not a field recording from a rainforest but edited together form a variety of single sources. Birdsong, animal calls and rainfall amalgamate in a constructed soundscape intended to represent and mimick reality. On the wall of the gallery plays the film Nanook of the North, this famous 1920’s documentary shows scenes of Inuit life, however some of these scenes are directed and planned to allow the filmmaker to create a more idealised and less real depiction of Inuit life. Roach’s intervention into this film is to project the film onto the gallery wall, a slowly spinning crystal disrupts and alters the images of the film by distorting the projections around the wall in altered, broken and scattered images. Roach’s intention is complete, we are in the centre of an environment intended to create a questioning of integrity, reality and our concepts of fact and fiction.

We hope that those who intend to show us the ‘real’ world through their films, images and representations do so with honesty, but to put across a message strongly it sometimes necessary to alter the reality to enhance the response from others. The manner in which ‘reality’ is depicted is unimportant if it is depicted with a spirit of honesty and integrity.


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