‘What no human eye is capable of catching. your camera catches without knowing what it is, and pins down with a machine’s scrupulous indifference.’ Robert Bresson 1958 

Films showing in this section: 

12.35 Margaret Tait Rose Street 1956
12.50 Charles Goodwin Norton Horse Drawn Traffic viewed from an Elevated Position 1899
12.51 Charles Goodwin Norton Horse Drawn Traffic in Euston Road 1899
12.52 Mark Lewis Centrale 1999
12.59 Wendy Kirkup and Pat Naldi Search 1993
1.06 Dryden Goodwin Hold 1996

Margaret Tait Rose Street 1956

10 minutes. Collection: Lux 

Rose Street, Edinburgh is where the filmmaker Margaret Tait had a small office during the 1950s. Without commentary, Tait observes ‘the life of the street’, the comings and goings of a community she was part of, as seen from her office doorstep. 

Biography:

Margaret Tait was born in 1918. She studied medicine at Edinburgh University, and film at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematographia, Rome, after War service in India. She practiced medicine to sustain her filmmaking, before returning to Orkney in the mid-1970s. Some of her work was made as ‘newsreels’ for the local cinema in Kirkwall; and much of it documents the Orcadian landscape and way of life. She also published poems and short stories. She died in 1999. 

Charles Goodwin Norton Horse Drawn Traffic viewed from an Elevated Position 1899

1 minute. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive 

The street scenes filmed by cinema pioneers such as Charles Goodwin Norton astonished contemporary audiences. The Russian novelist Maxim Gorky described the experience: ‘Carriages come from somewhere.. and move straight at you, into the darkness in which you sit… In the foreground children play with a dog, cyclists tear along, and pedestrians cross the street picking their way among carriages. All this moves, teems with life, and upon approaching the edge of the screen, vanishes somewhere behind it.’ 1896 

Biography:

Charles Goodwin Norton was born in 1855. He made many short ‘actualities’ at the turn of the century, which were developed and printed by the Hove based entrepreneur and fellow film pioneer G.A. Smith. He died in 1940 

Charles Goodwin Norton Horse Drawn Traffic in Euston Road 1899

1 minute. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive 

Biography:

Charles Goodwin Norton was born in 1855. He made many short ‘actualities’ at the turn of the century, which were developed and printed by the Hove based entrepreneur and fellow film pioneer G.A. Smith. He died in 1940 

Mark Lewis Centrale 1999

4 minutes. Collection: Artist 

Many of Mark Lewis’ film installations involve a critique of cinema; some re-work sequences from specific films. The fixed-camera view of a Soho street-scene in Centrale could be a remake of an early cinema ‘actuality’, such as the films by C.G. Norton just seen. But Centrale’s puzzling representation of space and our growing awareness that the scene may have been staged undermines our trust in such realism. 

Biography:

Mark Lewis was born in Canada in 1957. He studied at Harrow College of Art and the Polytechnic of Central London. An early documentary made with Laura Mulvey Disgraced Monuments 1992 was followed by a series of short works derived from classic cinema, at once homage and sharp critique: Upsidedown Touch of Evil 1997; Peeping Tom 2000. His recent installations are more sculptural, concerned with architectural space and landscape. He lives and works in London and the USA

Wendy Kirkup and Pat Naldi Search 1993

8 minutes. Collection: Projects UK 

Search (Newcastle) was made for television. Its twenty ten-second sequences were transmitted during commercial breaks on Tyne-Tees Television in June and July 1993, during the Tyne International Festival. The artists arranged a synchronised walk through busy streets which was followed by the city’s sixteen-camera surveillance system. 

Biographies:

Wendy Kirkup was born in Hong Kong in 1961. She studied at Brighton Polytechnic and Newcastle Polytechnic. She is currently Associate Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University. Pat Naldi was born in Gibraltar in 1964. She studied at Maidstone Polytechnic and Newcastle Polytechnic. She lives and works in London. Her East of Eden project was commissioned by INiva in 2002. 

Dryden Goodwin Hold 1996

4 minutes. Collection: Lux

People observed in the street are a frequent subject in Dryden Goodwin’s films. In Hold a different person is seen in each frame of film, although sometimes their image is repeated, allowing it to register more strongly. In the artist’s words, ‘Hold explores the nature of memory - and the tension that exists between our desire to hold onto experiences [and] the inevitability of the passing of time’. 

Biography:

Dryden Goodwin was born in 1971. He studied at the Slade School of Art, London. He was awarded a residency at Benetton’s art and communication institute Fabrica, Italy, in 1996-7, and a Nesta Fellowship in 2001. From early work in which he explored the boundaries between the drawn image and its film equivalent, he has moved to uniquely sculptural video installations.