James Benning works with film, focusing on a sense of place. His work is often built from long, unedited takes. The lengths of his films are determined by the lengths of film he’s shooting on. A parallel can be drawn with my work in that the length of my film is determined by the amount of time the pots take to dissolve. A few people have asked me why I’m not speeding it up so the viewer can experience a lot of the work all at once rather than relying on their patience and I feel it would do the subjects explored within the work a disservice, especially since I’m looking at the retelling of ignored histories and long term periods of silence.
That being said, currently my video is just over two hours long, and in some areas the pots don’t seem to be dissolving at all because the process is so gradual. I’m considering making a shorter, ‘cooked up’ version of the film, where I edit it together in a way that wouldn’t be as noticeable as if I’d just sped the entire thing up. I don’t want to speed it up as all that does it highlight the interesting effect of the water permeating the clay, rather than the clay slowly breaking down due to its materiality.
James Benning’s Ten Skies has given me a lot to think about in terms of film length. I can’t anticipate how long people will willingly watch my film for, and it would be a shame if someone sat watching it during two minutes where not all that much even happens. While I still have access to the editing suite I’m going to try and make a shortened version and see how it feels compared to the longer version.
I think part of me wants to hold onto the longer version because for me it represents all the time invested in this film as a result of the camera theft and I know I need to separate myself from that for now and think of what’s best for the work, not my own ego.