The Roundhouse is a striking horseshoe-shaped building at the heart of Birmingham’s canal network, with a long history of serving as a wharf, stables and more recently offices. Large parts of it have lain dormant for some years, and now the National Trust and the Canal and River Trust have exciting plans for its renewal. We had the privilege of screening archive material in various nooks and crannies around the Roundhouse during last autumn’s Birmingham on Film season, and we’re very happy to be back with an aquatic selection of moving image works tailored to this unique building. The programme includes:
Water and Power (Pat O’Neill, US 1989)
Hypnotic, hallucinatory documentary about the battle for natural resources in the Californian desert. This installation is presented by Edge of Frame.
Apnoe (Hund & Horn, Austria 2011)
Microdrama about the underwater-dwelling Berger familly.
The Watershow Extravaganza (Sophie Michael, UK 2016)
16mm installation documenting an attraction created for the 1951 Festival of Britain.
The Cut (Ian Nesbitt, UK 2015)
A modular film made up of a series of daily entries by avant-folk collective Dead Rat Orchestra who embarked on a tour from London Canal Museum to Bristol on the canals and waterways on Southern England in 2014.
Jetsam (Duncan Poulton, UK 2016)
An assemblage of footage scoured from the depths of the internet, Jetsam is a densely layered video-collage which combines computer-generated simulations of water into a constantly swirling and overlapping pool of unreal images.
Free Radicals (Patrick Goddard, UK 2013)
Goddard combines free association poetry with found GoPro footage of water sliding to form a seamless, meandering and mesmerising journey.
Stream (Joe Hamilton, Australia 2014)
Stream is a work that explores the well known analogy of water flow and the flow of data on the internet. The structure and movement in the browser window becomes a rigid framework that contains and shifts an array of found images and video of water. Waterfalls, torrents, rivers, creeks and streams of data flow down the screen. An interplay of fluidity and rigidness.
Beneath the Glass Ceiling (Elzbieta Lepa, UK 2016)
The glass ceiling became the the water I was submersed within when wreck diving in The English Channel which often entailed lengthy decompression periods of 2-3 hours depending on depth and time in water. Sight of the surface at 6 metres during the last decompression stop – albeit the lengthiest – would tease and tempt. The consequences of breaking that surface too soon was too costly to bear no matter how uncomfortable it presently felt. The piece is an interpretation of the journey of a dive using actual underwater footage as well as animation that intermittently interrupts the moments of anxiety and stress that may enter ones thoughts unwittingly requiring unwelcome attention.
Curzon Street Tunnel (Ellzbieta Lepa, UK 2016)
This piece is part of an ongoing body of work which forms a response to a walk to and through Curzon Street Tunnel on the Birmingham canal network in Digbeth, a particular environment that at once appears familiar yet may cause a sense of apprehension when confronted with mostly unwarranted feelings of anxiety. The audio in the work – ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ – is an attempt to brings feelings of calm and tranquility representing a state of control we maybe trying to hold onto within whilst insecurity and turmoil are on the brink of taking over.