Cherry Kino

Cherry Kino

Friday, 31 August 2012

My film 'Peach'

'Peach' is a hand-made Super 8 film, and an attempt at making a piece of 'Synaesthetic Cinema' (or 'Cinesthetic Synaema') according to ideas and principles I explored when working on my Master's degree in artist film. My suggestion is that we are all latently synaesthetic, and that a cinematic work has the capacity to elicit this synaesthetic experience if it is made in a personal, artisanal, ethical, and materially and sensually responsive and self-inclusive way. On doing my research, I discovered that Jojo, my boyfriend's daughter and my lovely friend, is herself synaesthetic, which is something that nobody knew until then. Jojo experiences numbers and days of the week with colours. The numbers 2, 6 and 8 all have distinct yet related colours - they are each variants of a type of orangey-peach. My method of filming and camera filters combined to create a peachy hue to my film. 'Peach' is also a nickname my mum gave me as a child, and one that I have realised I now give to Jojo. 

'Peach' is a deeply personal and sensual meditation on the stunning complexity of aesthetics (whose etymological root is 'sensations'), ideas of new materialisms and embodied film spectatorship, and the deep and complex feelings I have for my boyfriend's daughter. 'Peach' was shot on Super 8 and was entirely hand-processed and hand-edited. Please get in touch if you'd like to know more.

x Martha

My live film performance 'Revelation in a Dark Room'


Earlier this year I was commissioned by the live art festival '(In)xclusion' to create a work, and I made 'Revelation in a Dark Room'. 

This was a live performance utilizing three 16mm projectors, and situated in a photographic darkroom. I performed this piece many, many times over the 24 hour event, and loved every minute of it! There were three colours involved in the piece - yellow, red, and turquoise light. The photo below shows just a small section of the room. The projectors and their speakers were separated (connected with leads) and placed all around the space, so the sound often surprised people by coming from an unexpected location. The audience were invited in while the red darkroom safelight was on, but once they were all in and the door closed, the light went off and the piece began in pitch blackness, with an explanation of the rayogram method of filmmaking. I then 'played' the projectors, turning on first the sound, one by one, feeling my way in the dark to do so, and only later the lamps, again one by one. The lights were filtered through colours and prisms and reflected off pieces of mirror and glass to create a totally immersive colour environment. To draw the piece to an end I repeated this in reverse - turning off the lamps one by one. Except once all the lamps were off and the room was black once more, I increased the volumes of all three sound pieces for a while. Then I switched them off one at a time, pausing for the very last one, and letting it build and build in volume until I suddenly cut the power and left the audience unsure of what was going to happen, in deep blackness. I maintained the silence for as long as possible, letting it move into a feeling of unease, and invariably it was the audience members themselves who broke the tension at some point with a sound or action. The torch was switched on, there was often some therapeutic laughter and clapping, and the performance came to its close! I think it was a very intense experience, for me as well as the audience. Many people said they found it a lovely environment to be in, and could have spent ages inside the piece. Some found it very spooky and thought I was wearing night-vision goggles and could see them in the darkness! Some said it was their favourite piece of the evening. Some liked its short structure (it lasted about 10 minutes), while others wanted it to last longer, and perhaps some wanted it to be a lot shorter!

Here is my formal explanation of the piece, and the concepts and practice behind it.

Revelation in a Dark Room, a 16mm film performance by Martha Jurksaitis
Most people think of a photographic dark room as a very solitary place, but I often feel someone else in there with me. Call it a spirit, a lost soul, a ghost, or trapped energy, but there is a presence that makes itself known to me. I feel it wants desperately to be recognized, acknowledged, and included. The French word for film developer is ‘revelateur’ which means something that reveals. In the dark room, sombre images lying hidden and lonely in the undeveloped film stock reveal themselves: brilliant illuminations, felt before they are seen.

My piece embraces this connection between a lonely soul and the photographic image, between latent potential and active creation, between the process of seeing something, internalizing it, and then creatively expressing it. A 16mm projector plays a film that has been made by hand in the dark room by laying objects and pieces of film directly onto the filmstrip and exposing it to light before developing it. Because of the way the film has been created, the image spills over into the area that is normally read as sound by the projector. In this way the image creates the sound to become both an aural and visual revelation of what the filmstrip itself has felt via the objects that have been laid upon it. These revelations are then refracted and spatially expanded via pieces of mirror and prismatic devices to create an aural and visual installation celebrating the inclusive exposure of light and sound through material. When working with film in a dark room you are not able to open the door until the film is no longer sensitive to light, since film developing is a durational process. In a self-reflexive and site-specific approach, this installation is truly inclusive by requesting that the audience remain inside the dark room with the door closed for the duration of the piece.

x Martha

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

My Super 8 installation 'Washday Blues'


This post relates to a Super 8 installation I did in the Village Launderette during the Saltaire Arts Trail earlier this year. I just want to explain a little more about the project which links film and laundry together. There's also the recipe for Caffenol at the bottom (an eco-developer made using coffee, vitamin C and washing soda) because it uses washing powder - another link between film and laundry! I've also included lots of photos from the event, I hope you like them! It was a really good experience - a lot of passers-by dropped in on the night, as well as people coming because it had been advertised, and so there was a good spontaneous feel to the event and it sparked a lot of discussion about washing, laundry, community, and Super 8! One man brought his son to encourage him with his dream of becoming a filmmaker, so we spent a while talking about how to get started with Super 8 and how its particular aesthetics speak to various artistic applications.

So anyway, here goes...!

WASHDAY BLUES - an analogue film installation on Super 8 by Martha Jurksaitis

This Super 8 installation was prompted by the fact that one of Titus Salt's rules for the village of Saltaire was that nobody was allowed to hang out their washing to dry publicly. On looking into the issue, I discovered that landlords and housing associations in America are outlawing this also, on the grounds that the sight of washing hanging out to dry devalues property in that area, since it suggests that the residents are too poor to afford a tumble dryer, and thus the area is not seen as wealthy enough to warrant a decent property price. This association of washing lines and township and capitalist values seemed an interesting idea to pursue, given that the UK is beginning to follow suit in some areas. On filming around Shipley, I found that through the act of filming washing, I met many people who were curious about what I was doing, and without exception they were extremely accommodating and receptive to my camera. I found the experience communal and friendly, and actually met some neighbours for the first time in three years of living in the same place!

The Film Works
The installation is composed of four Super 8 film loops which I processed individually using the 'bucket' method (i.e. filling buckets with developing chemistry and swishing the film around in them by hand - with gloves!). It was very reminiscent of hand-washing clothes. With photochemicals, the orthodox view taken by the manufacturers of film and its chemistry is that once a batch of mixed chemicals has been used to process one particular type of film, it then becomes 'incompatible' for another. I purposefully flouted this convention and did the photochemical equivalent of putting a red sock in a white wash. The result was a curiously coloured film with a strong deep yellow hue. This led me on an adventure, since I realised that in photographic processing, yellow is the 'complementary colour' (i.e. opposite colour on the colour wheel) of blue. I worked with this idea to re-photograph the film and process it to a negative (using cross-processing in C-41 chemistry instead of E6), thus creating a film with predominantly blue tones. I also shot some footage and processed it normally in E6.

Four loops were chosen from the 100ft of footage I had shot and processed, and were set up in four Eumig Super 8 projectors. The projectors were positioned in different locations around the launderette and were aimed to project at sheets hanging up on the walls, and even inside the tumble dryers! Each projector was set to run at a different speed or frame rate, to explore the motion of washing hanging to dry in multiple rhythms. Tea-light candles were placed around the launderette, which was entirely blacked out from inside so that no outside light could filter in, creating an atmospheric and cinematic environment.

This project taught me 5 things:
1. Laundry and artisanal filmmaking have a lot in common. Baths, buckets, washing, rinsing, and even processing in a mixture made of washing soda, coffee and vitamin C (recipe to follow)! I also always hang up my Super 8 films to dry on a clothes drying rack.
2. In my experience through doing this project, people who hang out their washing are friendly and community-spirited!
3. There is a sensual reason for hanging washing out, as well as an aesthetic, ecological, economical and social one. The laundry is fresher, smells better, feels nicer to have close to your body, and gives a lot of pleasure.
4. Launderettes are interesting places, and are perhaps a mid-point between the home-made and the industrial, in that they are still meeting points where people share a resource. As places, they hold a lot of fascination for people, and elicit strong positive responses, which a home-based washing room most often does not. I once went to an impromptu party in a small local launderette in Australia. It was not a planned party, but just happened because of the people who were there, doing their washing.
5. Hanging out your washing gives you a chance to look away from the bricks and up at the sky.

This project was made possible with support from the Saltaire Arts Trail, Bradford City of Film, and the Saltaire Village Launderette. Here are some pics! The recipe for Caffenol follows underneath!

Recipe for Caffenol to develop black and white film (such as Tri-X) to a negative:
40g instant coffee (must be caffeinated! I use Co-op own brand, but any will do)
54g washing soda crystals (this is different to washing powder, Home Bargains sells it, or online)
16g pure vitamin C powder (aka ascorbic acid)
Fixer for film (you generally buy this from photochemical places, but apparently the juice from blended onions also works, though takes a long time!)

Put 800ml cold water in a bucket. Then put 40g coffee in a container and add 200ml boiling water. Add this mixture to the cold water. Then add the 54g washing soda and stir until dissolved. Next, add the vitamin C powder (the mixture satisfyingly fizzes up for a little bit, making it look like a cappuccino!). Your developer is now ready! Process at approx. 22 mins at about 27 degrees Celsius, then pour the coffee mixture out of the tank, rinse well, and fix for about 5 mins (or longer if using onion juice!). Rinse, dry, and hang up your film (on the washing line...) and project your negative film! Or you can digitise it and convert it to a positive, or print it onto 16mm using an optical printer to create a positive 16mm film print. Beautiful results are possible with this mix. The developer doesn't keep well, so discard after use. And be warned - it definitely doesn't smell of fresh washing! :)

If you would like to learn more about home-processing Super 8 and 16mm film, check out this free online resource:

You can also get in touch at the email below if you would like to attend an analogue filmmaking workshop, book CK to present a workshop (for example for friends or employees), or commission a Super 8 film or installation. 

x Martha

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

CK News


It's been a while since my last post, got lots to tell you!

First off, I visited Bioskop film lab in St. Sever du Moustier, in the South of France, run by the lovely Florent Ruch. I took some 16mm negative that I'd shot for Florent to process in the lab. I forgot to take photos while I was there, so you'll either have to imagine it, or go there!! It was an adventure getting there - my sister drove me from Montpellier, and there are loads of winding country roads, and some seriously awesome panoramas along the way. Highly recommended. And Florent is a total gem.

Then my boyfriend took me to La Palma as a birthday present! I don't know if any of you have ever been there? It's one of the Canary Islands, very un-touristy, black sand beaches, volcanique!!!! I have a real thing for volcanic lands, they turn me on creatively, big-time. I love filming them. So needless to say I did absolutely tons of filming. My suitcase was 70% film stuff. No joke. Well, you've got to get your priorities right, haven't you?! Look, here it is...

I did a lot of underwater filming, using an Ewa Marine underwater housing from the 70s or 80s - old school, and amazingly - seeing as it's only held together by screws... - it didn't leak at all! Quality item, love it! I also tested out my new pinhole obssession, using nothing but a Super 8 cartridge, a melted biro, some electrical tape, a piece of black 16mm film, a cactus thorn or pin of some sort, and my fingers. Loved shooting a film that way - it was out and out experiment, where I tried all kinds of exposures and techniques, a really free approach that matched how I felt being in that place. Wow...

Then... Florent came to visit in Leeds! We went out and about in Bradford and on the moor and around Leeds, and he had his Filmo 16mm camera with him. We even discovered the bell-ringers at Bradford Cathedral and they let us film them and watch them playing for about an hour, it was magical! Amazingly friendly people too. If anyone is interested in learning how to do it, contact Ron Crabtree via Bradford Cathedral, he's ace. I processed an ancient Ektachrome in E6 that had already been used for ancient Agfa Moviechrome processing, and the chemicals were quite old... I got some odd results - very yellow and murky green, they seemed to be the only colours, but some parts I absolutely love! The motion of the bell-ringers is visible even though they sort of aren't visible themselves...?! I have 2 more to play with, so I think next time I will cross-process in C-41 and see what happens, will let you know!

Florent brought with him my processed 16mm negative, so I've been hard at work editing that lately.

 Last week, Cherry Kino also ran a screening of the Super 8 films made on the courses earlier in the year.

It was so good to watch them again - I'm always impressed anew at how much everyone got into the process, and how totally diverse every film is!

Another exciting thing is that the I now have ECP chemistry for hand-processing print film. Woop! It's the huuuge gallon containers in the background... well, that's one of the chemicals! My lovely fella helped me cart them all the way back from London because DHL won't deliver chemicals outside of London...?!

Some new developments for Cherry Kino coming shortly, so watch this space! I've decided to balance doing Cherry Kino activity (workshops, courses, screenings) and working on my own films, which means that Cherry Kino will be taking a fresh kind of direction from later on this year, and I'm really happy and excited about it! I really needed the last few months to fully immerse myself in my work and manifest those visions that are in my head and dreams. I adore teaching others the filmmaking techniques I've learned, and I also adore making films myself - getting the balance right means being able to do both, which I feel immensely grateful for! Teaching for me is constant learning too, which feeds into my own filmmaking, which feeds into my teaching... and so on - I'd say it's a pretty wonderful situation! Oh my, the endless wonder of wondermental cinema, somebody pinch me!

Hasta luego!

x Martha