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Stream Line

Chris Welsby
1976
8 min Colour 16mm

Stream Line

This film was made on Mount Kinderscout in Derbyshire, England.

It is a continuous, "real time" tracking shot of a stream bed. The length of the track was ten yards. The camera was suspended in a motorized carriage running on steel cables three feet above the water surface. The camera pointed vertically downwards recording the contours of the stream bed and the flow of water along its course. The sound of the water was recorded synchronously from the moving carriage.

The "drama" in this film comes from the topography of the stream and not from the camera motion or from the editing. Throughout the unedited length of the film the camera tracks along a straight line at an absolutely regular speed. In contrast the stream runs fast and slow, cascading over boulders and swirling turbulently from left to right.

I think of the straight line formed by the tracking device as a metaphor for technology. However, the straight line does not dominate the landscape like a highway or a row of buildings; in this model the straight line is used as a means to articulate the complexity of nature.

The tracking device is invisible to the viewer, but if one were to take the spool of film and roll it out on the floor one would see a surface of celluloid running parallel to the water surface, a second straight line complete with rocks and rushing water. When the film is projected the viewer becomes aware of this line through the passing of time; in Stream Line space is represented through duration. CW.

Film shot with assistance from Jenny Okun.

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