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Cordelia Swann
18 min Colour<br> Super 8/U-matic


"'Phantoms' (1986) was a transitional film for Swann in that it marked a watershed between her previous work in tape slide with its basis in the manipulation of secondary or found images to work using footage shot by the film-maker and with a more discernible narrative structure.

The film's technique echoes the working methods of many of Swann's contemporaries at that time; film-makers including Derek Jarman, Cerith Wyn Evans, John Maybury and Steve Chivers (branded as the 'New Romantics') favoured the use of the domestic format of Super-8, for various reasons: it was cheaply and easily available and the cameras lighter to handle. Swann and many of her peers overcame the problems of editing such a fiddly film format by the use of telecine; a process of converting film to video in order to facilitate editing as well as achieve a more precise range of effects at the post-production stage. A textured graininess, the ability to exploit the original film footage's subtle ranges from dark to light, control over colour range and intensity were all possible through telecine, which allowed for the aesthetics and subtleties of film footage (compared to video) as well as more control over the manipulation of the image.

'Phantoms' often exquisite, atmospheric images of nature, architecture and interiors hark back to the opulence of the earlier work, yet are harnessed into a narrative of yearning and unrequited love through intertitles and the appearances of the male and female (Swann herself) protagonists. The film is an essay in desire using images rather than words. It's like a prose poem, with the intertitles giving it syntax. Swann acknowledges the influence of silent film at the time and especially that of Russian lyricism in literature and film, with its conflation of the landscape with the personal." Sotiris Kyriacou

With George Saxon

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