Whilst sorting out my films yesterday I played “A Star on the Horizon” (below, you may like to watch it first before reading the rest), and considered what it was saying September 2020, and what it means now. It is beyond comprehension that almost a year ago today I had hoped that Covid would stop spreading. One year later, whilst no longer in lockdown, there are still so many unknowns.
Most of the films I made during lockdown were melancholic, and it could be said they continue to be so. This particular one raises my awareness of my inclination to be an optimist. I still am, despite what we have gone through. It is what gets me through these slippery times.
When I made the film I had hope about the pandemic ending soon. Yesterday, when I wiped my storage drive with most of my films on, I was conscious that, though I did actually stop breathing for a split second, I also felt pragmatic. Maybe Covid has taught me that – or maybe it is simply age and maturity? Many years ago, in 2000, a lot of my studio equipment was stolen, including my computer, back up drive and video camera. At the time I was doing my MA in Fine Art and I used philosophical thinking to drag me out from the pit of despair at the loss. You can read Virtual Lobotomy here. Digital media does not exist, in physical terms, it is merely data, so nothing was lost.
That was in 2000, 6 years before my marriage broke up irretrievably . A bit like my hard drive. The words in the essay now have a different resonance, they could apply to the moment I left our family home;
I will get a new extension, but will have to learn all over again how to use it, to make it comfortable to be with. But I will never regain those feelings I experienced with the last one, the nerve endings have been cauterised. New nerves will grow, maybe even stronger than the first. I hope so.
Now things are different. I certainly did develop new extensions, grew new nerves, became stronger, and survived to tell the tale. And maybe this film of hope is part of the process of coming to terms with one’s responsibility in the world?
However, there’s a twist in the tale, because since Covid first hit, we have become a world obsessed with data. Statistics of infections, deaths and vaccinations have taken over our lives. We are increasingly aware of our mortality, of the fact we, in our minds, believe people are more than a statistic. So, whilst data is important, in actual fact, our existence has taken centre stage. And onto that stage climate change and environmental fragility feels more painful, more urgent, even more urgent than us. Well to some people it does. Sadly not to all politicians. More statistics flood in – rising sea levels, temperatures, extinctions.
Like the pandemic, this is a major issue that requires collaboration, working together, socialism. Yet capitalism still holds the reins, pulls the strings of all the important decisions. Neither the planet, nor us, have little value when it comes to economics.
So now I am focusing on a new body of work – one that reflects on where the human race is now and our prospects of a future. It may be even more important that I switch on the hope button, because accepting that the damage we have done to the planet is not reversible is challenging. But we must persevere.