The Animal Drums at Whitechapel Gallery Cinema : December Thursday13th 2018
A feature length art film exploring the sad, macabre, abstract threat of contemporary London undergoing constant development.
A city developer's life and mind begins to breakdown as he re-encounters the London he once tried to shape as an active adversary. The Animal Drums is a feature-length art-film exploring the sad, macabre, abstract threat of a contemporary London in the grips of constant and nefarious growth. The film charts the the particular, baffled and morbid character of English attitudes to mortality, along with the specific influence of place and conformity on the quintessentially English deferral of emotion and melodrama. It captures the ambiguous menace of an often accidentally humorous resolve, manner, apology and understatement so prevalent in the English character within a city that is proudly unEnglish.
'Manichean visions revive disputed and despoiled London ground. Poetry in light and stone' Iain Sinclair
The Animals Drums emerges from a four year collaboration between myself and Joshua Alexander that began in five experimental shorts about everything from disease, menial work and the remnants of the British Empire to a London in the grips of overcrowding.
The film called on the miserabalist traditions of post-war European avant garde theatre and poetry, leaning into the glossed over friendliness of a contemporary ‘happy’ urban landscape they invoke deliberate absurdity in their visuals as well as in their text. They are London shot, or in commuter towns.
The film spreads over the lands of London which seem to have inspired a re-understanding of the city's literary and psychological history, from Limehouse to Wapping, Rotherhithe to Ratcliff. Mutely nodding to this profound and now taken for granted reexamination of these once were slums, the film sets itself against the confident and touristic glean of that history, instead aligning itself with the suffering sediment of the actual past. Shot around Wellclose Sq and Hawksmoor's St Anne's, and hiding from the Thames, the film evokes Falk, Swedenborg, Linneaus in all their intelligent menace.
Moreover, the film is born out of a collaboration between two fellow and former employees of a major British Museum institution, and draws on shared experiences of the potential, and actual, vapidity of assumptions of improvement and beneficial pedagogy in such institutions, as well as shared negative experiences of a vast, global tourist deluge. In that sense, the films are born mutually, conceived by the two artists at the same time, and created without much dialogue yet with a certain sense of synchronicity.
The film also explores the particular, baffled and morbid character of English attitudes to mortality, along with the specific influence of place and conformity on the quintessentially English deferral of emotion and melodrama. The films aim to capture the ambiguous menace of an often accidentally humorous resolve, manner, apology and understatement so prevalent in the English character.
April 13, 2016 - So happy to have been commissioned by the amazing pioneering Forumstadtpark in Austria, curated by the equally groundbreaking Max Hofler, to produce a videotext work, part of their Glory Hole series. This series has been going for years and involves a video with text projected against the side of the Forumstadtpark itself, blown up like a bat signal, in the middle of a huge, beautiful park in the middle of the city. Loads of people see it, and for my work, which runs throughout April, this is true as its being screened while a film festival goes on. Really i had fun making it too, they promote my kind of work. You can see all the glory hole commissions here : https://vimeo.com/forumstadtparkgraz, some great ones, and my edition, the 31st, below
Meditations on Strong Tea - a film by Emanuella Amichai translating my poem
September 20, 2018
Emanuella is an amazing film maker and artist who I’ve had the pleasure to correspond with for years. She made a film of my poetic sequence - Meditations on Strong Tea - which was in my 2014 Rottweiler’s guide to the Down Owner book, and written for tom and val raworth. It’s a beautiful example of abstract intermedia translation, a removed but potent form of collaboration. Her work is wonderful, worth seeking her out.
Enthusiasm : made with Noah Nutton (Wellcome Collection residency 2016)
Emerging from the beginnings of The Hub residency at Wellcome Collection, Enthusiasm is an experimental short film exploring how our internal and external languages collide. Following an unnamed protagonist through his daily life in the city of London, Enthusiasm examines sexual attraction, power, exhaustion, and the dichotomy between the body and the mind.
"The result of a transatlantic collaboration between British poet SJ Fowler and American director Noah Hutton, and drawing from new techniques in analyzing internal monologues and self consciousness used by contemporary neuroscientists, Enthusiasm uses the potential of cinema to reveal the conflicts of inner and outer narrative. Through innovative sound design, voiceover technique, and a sensitivity to its urban setting, we encounter the lurking tensions of contemporary life in their menacing, ambiguous, and intimate forms."
Worm Wood : made with Tereza Stehlikova (Kensal Green Cemetery Residency + 2016 to present)
Part of the Worm Wood residency at Kensal Green Cemetery over the summer of 2017, the central output of my extended collaboration with Tereza Stehlikova is a film which fuses the industrial and reclusive landscapes of these areas of London with poetry, exploring the specific history of the cemetery and the part of London where it resides, as well as death and the culture of cemeteries specifically, and all the notions of geography and city that this entails. The project also explored London's painful development boom - perhaps most importantly and most accidentally - the film also documents the transformation of West London as the Old Oak Common Development begins its decade construction.
The Soundings Films : made with Ed Prosser (Wellcome Library 2015 to 2016)
This collaboration with filmmaker Ed Prosser was an attempt to see how the means of film, most especially the editorial possibilities of the medium, might marry with Sound Poetry and Conceptual Performance - how it might create a kind of strange narrative potential. The films embodied a real range of ideas, from documentation to faux documentaries. These are short films masquerading as performances. For more details see www.stevenjfowler.com/soundings