You Made Me Love You emerged from an experiment that aimed to reverse the dynamic between a travelling camera and travelling subjects. The piece comprises a single travelling shot in which a restless camera provokes a choreography of sorts, a startled flocking motion, as a group of dancers seek to restore their relationship to the centre frame. This in turn provokes a series of spatial and social adjustments and a process of micro-negotiations amongst the dancers. The video documents the flux of the physical process (dancers are constantly slipping out of the frame) and that of more interior, sensory processes (perceivable in small, concentrated looks and movements across surfaces of faces). This is the documentation of processes at the heart of performance that always intrigued me, unstable and in flux. The viewer witnesses a range of individual senses of personhood and self-presentation, now tentatively, now boldly expressed.
The camera’s unedited performance makes felt the time of its recording. The single shot is a marker of time, theirs and ours. As they negotiate each other, the camera’s, the dancers’ and the viewer’s looks are in a caught up together in a single measure of time. The separate temporal frames of recording and of viewing, are bridged by the unfolding of the shot, but also by the exchange of looks, the direct address of the dancers who seem to seek-out, and return the viewer’s gaze. The viewer’s presence is implicated in the game.
My first training was as a dancer. I needed to use film and video to help me think through the nature of performance, of dance and of choreography. Years later, undertaking a period of study in visual anthropology enabled me to try out some new areas of practice. However, it also offered me some new ways of thinking about the work I had been making before (including the video above, for example). In turn, anthropology offered me the space to reflect on filmmaking and to consider my own role, processes and performance, together with those of the subjects of my video work, perhaps bringing all of these roles and practices into a closer and more direct dialogue.
As a film and video artist, as a filmmaker, I wouldn’t make claims for my films or my practice as anthropology because I am not an anthropologist and my aims are differently defined. Exploring connections and correspondences between fields is productive not because things are the same, but because they are different. It seems likely that any affinities or overlaps are interesting because they emerge from distinct processes and sensibilities, yet share or borrow some aspects of practice or produce some kinds of knowledge, which can shed light on one another. I am wary of erecting new definitions and categories that are anything other than contingent, speculative and provisional in nature. But opportunities to find new analogies that enable reflection, dialogue and knowledge exchange, are always illuminating and essential for keeping a practice alive.
-Miranda Pennell 2011