The idea for ‘The Strange Happening‘ came out of a chance encounter with a book entitled ‘Out of Africa‘. I received this book free with a newspaper a long time ago. Opening the book one evening I flicked to the section ‘The Immigrant’s Notebook‘ and read the subsection ‘A Strange Happening‘. The short text described a chance encounter with a vast number of exhausted wild dogs in the plains of Africa strolling in front of two stunted onlookers.
That was it. There was not a grand story arch. No romance or violence. A simple but highly unusual encounter. An intervention into the landscape and the lives of others.
Reading ‘Animated Storytelling: Simple Steps for Creating Animation and Motion Graphics‘ I decided to learn methods in structuring narrative (especially unusual stories). I found the steps helpful because once I had finished with one step I could move productively onto the next which gave me confidence that the project was progressing.
My eventual story line (elevator pitch) became this:
“The Strange Happening” [working title] is an adventurous film with three interconnected stories about the past, present and future of the sunken glass city, with an underlying idea about turning a negative into a positive.
The idea of a sunken glass city sparked a lot of creative responses in my head, but I tried to expand my thinking to metaphoric responses and not solely literal interpretations. It’s been fruitful speaking and collaborating with a friend Peter whose advice has helped to push the film process forward.
Early story boarding and research wall
Paolo Uccello – Battle of San Romano 1450? (Uffizi Gallery, Florence)
I believe this painting is one of three which are separately held at different museums in Europe. The National Gallery has one as do the Louvre and Uffizi. I was aware of this work by reading Gombrich’s ‘The Story of Art’.
“An augmented-reality park in Silvertown, London is proposed as a form of ‘exponentially expanded cinema’. Collaged and abstracted grafts from Western genre films form a choreography of actual-virtual landscapes that are to be navigated through.”
[University of Greenwich, 2016, Architecture & Landscape Works. London: UoG. p365]
Dominic Davis, ‘then and now, them and us’
The piece explores various dichotomies found in North Woolwich. I sorted the information into columns to reflect the tabloid style Joe Tilson was using as a critique on consumerism which aligns with my interest in subverting pop. Included also are oral history testimonies of North Woolwich by children taken as part of an oral history project titled ‘Ports of Call’ by Fundamental Architecture Inclusion with London East Research Institute. I used texts from Peter Ackroyd on Woolwich and an advertising snippet from one of the recent residental developments on the site.
Joe Tilson, ‘Snow White & Black Dwarf’
These are some collage tests exploring a hybrid virtual and physical park. The park uses a participants memory and associations as a layer within a multi-layered psychogeographic experience that uses historical and fictional depictions as well in a pop/consumerist aesthetic void of branding.
In these two maps I sort to respond to two of the three main themes of the Situationists (dérive and psychogeography). The blue piece documents my exploration through the site in a Situationist drift manner and has been my second time visiting the site since my first as a child. The circles of colour in the middle of the piece represent the anxiety I felt that the space of the foot tunnel imposed on me. The yellow piece represents the overlapping of histories both printed and oral tradition in the collages of the prison ships and my grandfather (as a child) on the ferry. The pink lines indicate my areas of interest in the physical space of today which are the DLR station, abandoned rail station, abandoned dock, ferry, Royal Victoria Gardens and the foot tunnel.
Set sometime in the future looking back at the previous occupation of the Greenwich Peninsula through the lens of tourism.
The drawing above describes for my film the route the camera takes through the Landscape of Histories masterplan for West of Greenwich Peninsula and also a timeline of where the shots follow in order of events. The colours have some inspiration taken from other architectural drawings when I look to compare, but in the making of it, it was another experiment with colour.