On from the interim crit

30Dec09

Taking on board the comments and feedback from the interim crit I am encouraged that the work I’ve produced conveys the intended meaning quite successfully.

It was late in the day when I spoke about my piece and as a result I got asked a question which I didn’t answer to the best of my ability (although I knew the answer quite well but only after I came away and had a think about it.) I suppose I’ll put that down to the pressure of speaking in front of the group – something which I have never really gotten to grips with. I was asked if I had considered whether the  viewer would assume that the narrator is actually Karen (the woman whom the story is about) and the retrospective nature of the account in light of this and whether the uneveness in tone in which the story is read supports or denies this reading. Finally was it important that the narrator be a woman as opposed to a man?

The range of responses that sprang from this further supports the argument for “the viewer makes meaning” but it is important to clarify my intention with this issue.

It was fundamental to me that in this piece the narrator should be female. I think I suggested that the piece is a self reflective look at the hormonal difficulties I’ve been experiencing and is not so much about the issue of cyclothymia or illness per-se, more the effects of a condition that distorts the mood on those around the sufferer. As soon as I read Karen’s story Diane came to mind as the person whom I wanted to read it, not because I saw her as Karen or thought it could be taken this way, it was more that the tone I knew she could achieve seemed to fit. It was when we came to record it that I changed my mind about what worked and what didn’t. It actually worked counter to what I’d expected and the first version we attempted was the one that worked for me after trying numerous variations. (Please see my previous entry on this.)

Personally I feel that I should explain what it was intended to convey with more clarity.   

The voice is monotonous yet broken in places as though it is being read out. This serves two purposes. At first I was going on the theory that it’s 80% how you say something and 20% what you say that governs it’s impact and this was the device that I imagined would hopefully enable me to embed the actual meaning of the story within the way it was narrated as to be hidden somewhat or disguised. However although the monotonous tone is hard to stay with and in my opinion could cause a lapse in attention of the viewer it is pretty much imposssible to ignore the words regardless of the tone and so I had to think of another way to deal with this. My first intentions were to make the story jackanory like in it’s sound and feel and this is why we get the uneven breaks in dialogue and the impression that it is being read out, because it was. But on listening to the footage back I found that these little gaps were needed because they were oddly displacing and served to draw the attention back to the narrative and the somewhat shocking nature of what is being said.

In the crit I had forgotten about my original premise of private vs. public and I think that the gaps suggest a sense of trying to hold it together (which is what the images are about –  projected fantasy of how we want to be rather than how we are) and looking down at yourself as though you are somebody else, or that somebody else has taken a hold for a while (I’ve heard it described as Jeckyll and Hyde) which I know is what that mood feels like when you experience it. All in all it was this take that had the most in common with my own experience of the condition and I believe that my simple premise which worked on two levels has now become a little bit more multi faceted by the addition of this but by no means was it displeasing. I wouldn’t have been happy to show the work in its entirety at a level that I wasn’t sure at least partly conveyed my intention.

I can’t answer the question of whether this is supposed to be Karen in retrospect because I won’t spoon feed or patronise my viewers by dictating that either it is or it isn’t. Suffice to say that the idea that I look at the issue from a male perspective taking it outside of something that is immediately personal to me will help me to clarify my goals I think.

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