Robinson in Ruins

I came across this in my final year of BA. I saw short excerpt but never went to the screening at the BFI as I didn’t really think it was relevant to my work at the time.

Jon Shapley mentioned it some weeks ago and also a few days later Gareth Polmeer.

I got the DVD a few weeks ago and watched it recently, after I’d submitted my research paper.

Another amazing coincidence (one of several which are cropping up with increasing frequency) is that Patrick Keiller was born in Blackpool !

The film is very complex and is only one part of an inter-institutional project  with Patrick Wright, Doreen Massey and Matthew Flintham. I  referenced Flintham’s PhD project , Parallel Landscapes, in my Research Paper. It focuses on militarised sites in the UK.

Doreen Massey discusses geography in a social/ esoteric ( not sure if I am using this word really correctly) and yet almost practical ( more common sense)  way.

I have her book For Space’ but really need to read it several times. It has changed my ideas of  ‘space’ completely  and is more accessible than Levefbre.( is that saying much?)

Included w ith the DVD of R in R  is a copy of Massey’s paper Landscape/ space/politics which I looked at briefly for my research paper. It  will need a closer read.

Patrick Keiller describes his work as being about ‘dwelling’, a settled agricultural past, its relationship to the English landscape and the development  of capitalism

There are so many points for discussion in the film but I’ll just highlight the things than are most relevant for me…. apart of course from the ones I’ve forgotten…

  • It is filmed in analogue film rather than digital
  • Keller uses a static camera and long takes with a combination of scenes in the mid- distance and close-ups.
  • Often, nothing much happens. There is the narration but it is sparse and slow.
  • There are elements of ‘myth’ regarding the content of the narration and the supposed character who has made the film.
  • It is filmed around the countryside of Oxfordshire and some is actually fairly close to my home! but not Croughton
  • It refers to RAF Upper Heyford and RAF Barford which are military bases associated with RAF Croughton.
  • It focusses on botanical elements as well as landscape and action, and dwelling within it and buildings.
  • The narration and the visual content move from subject to subject with the two not necessarily instantly recognised as related –a fragmentation
  • There are references and quotations within the narration …scattered.
  • It has an almost documentary format but elements of myth are juxtaposed .

In some ways I do wish I had seen this before I had written the paper as I may have extended the performative quality of the paper to echo this work.

There are many elements that I have included in my paper but, and I don’t know whether it is wise to admit it, I was not aware of this content and format before writing.

Also although here are so many similarities, I am actually thinking about very different things from Mr. Keiller…. or at least I think I am….?

For him the politics are paramount. For me, the politics are important but with a small ‘p’…I think..

Though in the past people have commented that my work is more political than I realise…

I started out thinking about collective memory but also ideology and the mythological associations of those.

I guess that’s pretty political…and once you start to talk about history whether personal or collective then there is a political element to that too.

EDIT November 2015:I looked at this as well The Robinson Institute, exhibition at the Tate 2012


I found this quote but now I’m not sure where…The Mission Statement from the Institute : aims to promote political and economic change by developing the transformative potential of images of landscape


Research Paper- The struggle and the ? resolution…….maybe

This is a short post about the process of writing of my Research Paper so I don’t forget it…

I started over the summer with reading, knowing I was trying to cover too broad a topic . I got hopelessly lost in a  journey through local and national history.But I don’t really have a very linear idea of time and struggle with key dates and Time Lines and so on. I ended up not knowing what I was writing about in terms of past or present …

Eventually, after my tutorial I rearranged the paper and decided it was not going to  be in a traditional format. I got hopelessly lost in a ‘geographical sense’  as well and so started to think about the geography of the places, and time.

I really felt a physical sensation of negotiation of territory a little like a ‘flaneur’ but of time rather than place .I had things of interest I was attracted to but no real sense of direction. Not good for the objective questioning of a research paper. I lost track of what it wa about and had to work that out at the end.

I’d discovered the paper on  archaeological palimpsest  and had a book by Tim Ingold.

I really like some of what he says; his  lecture talking about  Lines not Blobs!! makes me think of some of digital blobs the Midterm review.

so negotiating a territory of communities.

He’s thinking of Biological and ‘natural science’. Interesting as his father was a mycologist! and you can see/ hear that in his ways of thinking…. rhizomatous or mycelium....?? one and the same

Then I discovered some Doreen Massey and her perceptions of ‘geographical space’

 Space is the dimension of multiplicity 

 Space presents us with the dimension of ‘the other’

and then thinking about Simultaneity in philosophical and  relativity theory….. and synchronicity in the same terms and even Jungian stuff.

God if I’m not careful my brain will explode!!

So what was the paper about….?   I could give it no proper structure and that was before a proper reading of some of Doreen Massey and Tim Ingold !!!!

Rather late on in the research paper I was still thinking about

  • performance of individuals from the p.o.v. of Richard Schechner,
  • experienced embodiment ( handy references here perhaps?)
  • performativity,
  • performative text,
  • utterance and writing

 and how they all played a part in the overall methodololgy of the research for the paper and then

the methodology of the writing of it..

I think I managed to pull it all together but still really need to think about how the space and time thing work with the idea of community/ ecosystem, simultaneity and performativity…. and then….

What the hell I am going to make to explain it!

Gareth Polmeer recommended Robinson in Ruins which I had seen in part when I was with John Seth but felt not relevant to my practice…Jonathan Shapley had recommended it again I did watch it and will describe this later

Jon Shapley – ‘What kind of Place is this.’

I went to Jon’s Preview Here is his website.

I’m always stuck by the huge differences between our work and the similarities and differences between the topics we address.

He often thinks of liminality from the point of view of place and territory but some of the concerns keep touching on each other.

Jon had booked this space ages ago and in theory I was supposed to have bee exhibiting with him but I didn’t get my act together.

Its odd because my Research Paper…the reason why I decided not to go ahead with the exhibition… has taken on a geographical and historical element.

We have been reading different theory books about place and he works in 2D.

He mentioned Robinson in Ruins…Patrick Keiller... as he thought it may be of interest to me