Alexandra Bell

Sound Artist

  ︎︎︎ ︎︎

Reflective Journal: Short Sound Film

Entry 1:  Research & Concept Development

Initially I experimented with a DSLR camera, changing the parameters of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance etc. to understand the effects on the image.

Then I watched some films in the Tate catalogue for an overview of moving image in the art world. I loved Mika Rottenberg’s works because of their surreality and reinterpretation of the factory worker. My favourite piece was Tacita Dean’s ‘FILM’ (2011), where she explains her use of material rather than digital for filming, and describes sunset’s green ray, which was captured only on celluloid, “being too elusive for pixelation”. The narrative and tone of her voice is particularly beautiful and also comforting, as I believe I’ve seen the green ray when sailing across the Atlantic. This attempt to capture and create magic is a fascinating justification for the Arts.

I decided to choose the project theme of ‘Reflections’, from the persepctive of reflecting on relationships and how they changed through the pandemic - some strengthening, some dissolving. Feedback regarding my ‘Listening, Sound Alone’ project was that it was very intellectual. For the ‘Short Sound Film’ project I want to do the opposite, driven by emotion and with a more lyrical, fairytale feel. Aesthetic inspirations are the pastel sets of Roy Andersson.

  • Ai WeiWei talk/book launch tour, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Edinburgh, Nov 11 2020.   The artists’ considered, measured responses to questions and the experiences of his incarceration as well as his father’s and grandfather’s were humbling.
  • Hell Bus,  McCullen, D. & GSASA /GSA Sculpture & Environment Dept. In sharp contrast to my experience of Ai Weiwei, this piece of work - positioned to represent Shell greenwashing- was full of poor research, misrepresentation and lack of understanding by the artist. Undermines itself and the issues.
  • Film, 2011, [Film], Dean, T., Tate,
  • Mary’s Cherries, 2005, [Film], Rottenberg, M., Tate Shots,
  • Bridgit, 2018, [Film], Prodger, C., Turner Prize 2018, I feel I’ve taken this film so many times (train, tram, bus) that the only thing interesting is how this visual was repositioned to be interesting to the art world.
  • About Endlessness, 2019 [Film], Dir. Andersson, R., Magnolia Pictures, Sweden. Love the dream-like quality of the highly stylised sets.
  • High-Rise [FIlm], 2015, Dir. Wheatley, B., BFI/ Film4/Recorded Picture Company/HanWay Films/NI Screen. Fantastic visuals and mis-en-scene in this adaptation of J.G.Ballard -an author whose books I have never been able to finish because of their brutality.
  • Ammonite [Film], 2020, Dir Lee, F., Transmission Fiolms /Lionsgate. Gentle period drama of the relationship between 2 women, and the challenges of being a scientist in the 19th Century. Ultimately I found a lack of chemistry between the characters but enjoyed the fact that career rather than sexuality was the focus for our heroine.

Entry 2:  Script, Sound & Video Recordings 

W.A.S.P.s Artists’ Residency, Admiral Roddy’s Studio, Isle of Skye
I spent week 10 with two other artists -a painter and a ceramicist- living together in the Admiral’s Cottage on Skye. My aims for the residency were to: (i) craft the story board for my short sound film project (ii) explore the local landscape for locations with acoustic activation potential and interview those locations as instruments/sound objects (iii) write poetry and music for the film (iv) research local Gaelic narratices, history & culture which may influence music or poetry. Evenings were spent reviewing each others’ work and offering ideas for development. We all had previous careers in medecine and social care, so also discussed the comparative value of art & culture in society.

I experimented with various cameras: JVC Camcorder, DSLRs at different price points -Canon EOS 4000 & Sony a7riii, Drone camera. 

  • Paterson, K., 2019, A Place That Exists Only in Moonlight (printed with cosmic dust), Turner Contemporary

  • The Art Life [Documentary Film], 2016, Dir Nguyen et al, Duck Diver Films. Insight into the approach of David Lynch which reinforces the single mindedness (and selfishness) required to reach the top of any industry, and the sacrifices required not for the artist but those around them. Jury’s still out for me whether Lynch is a clever Emperor with no clothes.  

Project Plan