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Title: Walking pictures : investigating through film practice the structural, sequential and durational character of the urban walk
Authors: Pattison, Michael
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The three films constituting this practice-based thesis document and respond to a particular kind of urban walk. Constructed both visually and narratively around three long walks that were themselves structured by recurrent features within a distinct urban context, the films deploy a range of aesthetic strategies to investigate and approximate the ways in which walking can be understood in structural, sequential and durational terms. Taken together, the three films adopt and combine techniques commonly associated with experimental film and the cinematic avantgarde – the steady-stare camera, the uninterrupted long take, stillness and repetition, a general eschewal of contextual information, and an emphasis upon the incidental. In combination, these techniques call attention to themselves and solicit a mode of spectatorship that is itself attentive and reflexive, a mode in which the incidental emerges as a potential frontline for everyday struggle. As such, this thesis asserts and activates a spatial politics in which looking and listening become acts of decoding. Articulating the tensions between structure, repetition and rhythm, between stasis, slowness and simultaneity, and between disruption, perception and play, the project intensifies the underexplored connections between walking and film. It contributes a deeper understanding of the ways in which both can be considered as distinct practices that take meaning from one another in terms not only of form but also of the armature they provide for joined-up and dialectical thinking. In addition, the thesis contributes to the field of psychogeography, positioning and validating the destination-oriented walk as a legitimate subgenre of the dérive – a tradition more commonly understood as an aimless city meander. Exploring the synchronous relationship between fixity and chance, between a predetermined route and the countless contingencies at play along it, my films are at once spatiotemporally bound, definable as documentary snapshots of a specific urban terrain, and highly formal works that capture and convey city spaces in all their totality and generality. Within this context, I contribute an image of the walk as simultaneously unique and repeatable: an effective conduit for recording and communicating on-the-day energies, intensities, ambience – and a means through which an active engagement with urban space in all its multiplicities may take hold.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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