November 21, 2020

When will the smoke lift?

Peter Murray Threipland

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FilmPlaying with Fire, 2020

Like a phoenix, this wee film grew out of a need to burn weed! My lockdown project was to revive a Victorian walled garden to provide food for the family. In nature every plant grows in the correct place. When the soil is tilled many plants grow in places we don’t want them. They are ‘weeds’. Gaia’s revenge for our tilling. I decided to burn the weeds. The weeds produced smoke, another revenge by Gaia, like the weeds also unvalued, unmonetized. Shapes loomed out of the smoke, gradually becoming clearer and then disappearing into another cloud of smoke. This inspired the film: in this ominous surreal world there is a musical battle between a saxophonist and a trombonist – their weapon? – a crossbow. In lockdown you can make exciting things out of necessity. The smoke from the burning provides an analogy to the uncertainty of a Covid world. Things are seen dimly and then suddenly shapes become clear, but there, against a changing background, clarity is again dimmed. As out of a dream a shape appears, certainty is gained. As out of a nightmare certainty loses its shape and retreats into the indistinct.