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Park Film

Chris Welsby
1972
8 min Colour Silent 16 mm

Park Film

The camera was pointed at right angles across a busy park pathway.

On the other side of the path are many trees receding into the distance. About one third of the composition is taken up by sky. Many people move through the picture, both on and off the pathway. One frame was taken each time a person on the pathway moved into the picture and one frame was taken again as they moved out. The procedure was repeated over a period of three days with filming beginning at dawn and ending at dusk. Two of the days were sunny and the other was very stormy. The speed at which people, clouds and shadows move in the film is directly related to the flow of people through the park.

The overall pacing of this film was dependent on the flow of people along a busy park pathway in London. The flow of people is determined by the commuter clock, by the morning and evening rush hours, by the timing of the daily coffee break and lunch break etc. In Park Film the rhythm of the city can be seen to interact with the changing light and weather conditions throughout the day.

This is not so much a film about a park, or a record of the people passing through the park. Here the camera is not a passive observer, nor is it used as a surveillance device. Rather, the camera in Park Film, like the passers by who trigger its shutter, is an active participant in the interaction between a park and the city which surrounds it.CW.

"The primary strategy for exploring the properties of cinematic representation is the manipulation of the recording devices (e.g. the shutter of the camera, or the aperture, or the framing of the composition, or the use of tripod or tape recorder), and the primary strategy for then integrating the 'content' of the landscape with the 'shape' of the film is to establish a system or systems which incorporates the two. Chris Welsby's Park Film is a good example. This seven minute film is constructed around a rigid system (the 'shape') which is mitigated by an aleatory system (arising from the 'content').... The preconceived rigid system (precisely when a frame should be exposed) is dependent for its execution on the aleatory system (the passerby).... The landscape is thus an integral factor determining the shape of the film."
Deke Dusinberre, 'St. George in the Forest: The English Avant-Garde', in Afterimage, Summer 1976

Made with assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain.

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