Little Things Rule the World: The enlivening Practices of Apiculture and Hand-made filming
How can experimental film be used to address the global decline in flying insects and the loss of bees and biodiversity?
What did the project involve?
The project addresses the decline of flying insects globally and it focuses this problem through individual found corpses of bees which are dissected and placed directly onto 16mm film. The stock is processed in BEEF darkroom using caffenol (as an effective and less toxic alternative to celluloid film).
This resulted in the creation of the film Not (a) Part (2019).
“Not (a) part was conceived in relation to both the rapid decline of flying insects and the high recurrence of animation, handmade or contact film that works with the subject and/or material of flying insects. Numerous dead bees found on walks were positioned directly onto negative film and contact printed. Occupying approximately 24 frames they run at a rate of 1 bee per second. The length of the film is determined by how many specimens are found over a specified period of time. The project addresses the decline of flying insects globally and it focuses this problem through individual found corpses of bees which are dissected and placed, much as Stan Brakhage did with Mothlight, directly onto 16mm film.” – Vicky Smith
As part of Brigstow’s 2018/19 Festival, Smith’s 16mm film Not (a) Part (2019) was premiered with a live soundtrack by members of BEEF: Melanie Clifford, Kathy Hinde, Howard Jacques and Shirley Pegna along with The Making of Not (a) Part by Murray, Patchett and Smith (2019). There was also be a screening of several animation films that work broadly work with the subject and/or material of flying insects. The screening was followed by a discussion between Murray, Patchett and Smith.
Who are the team and what do they bring?
- Vicky Smith (Bristol Experimental Expanded Film: BEEF) is an artist film maker and academic who has worked in experimental animation and 16mm film for 30 years and has screened work internationally in galleries and at festivals. Vicky was part of the London Film Makers Co-op, has a PhD in experimental film, is co-founder of artist collective Bristol Experimental Expanded Film (BEEF).
- Merle Patchett (Geography, University of Bristol) is a cultural-historical geographer by training, whose research broadly focuses on theories, histories, and geographies of practice with a particular interest in experimental geographical methods that seek to problematize methodological assumptions pertaining to rigour, reliability and representation.
- Rachel Murray (Humanities, Loughborough University) research specialises in modernist literature, animal studies, and the environment. Prior to this project, Rachel had just completed her doctoral research on insects in modernist literature.
What were the results?
The inaugural screening of Not (A) part, took place at The Cube Cinema, Bristol as part of Little Things Rule the World event in January 2019
Not (a) Part: Handmade Animation, Materialism and the Photogram Film by Vicky Smith was published in the International Journal of Creative Media Research (2019)
Test images from the project can be viewed on Vicky Smith’s blog.
The film is available to watch online via Vicky Smith’s Vimeo channel
“The film is a response to the rapid decline of flying insects. White voids, where once were black bodies, create a sense of loss and mourning. This version has a new soundtrack composed by Matt Davis, Melanie Clifford and Shirley Pegna.” – Smith
The film was shown at the 2022 International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR)
“53 dead bees found on walks in South West Britain. Positioned directly onto negative film and contact-printed, bees are the subject and the material of this animation on the topic of the rapid decline of flying insects. Occupying approximately 24 frames, they run at a rate of 1 bee per second.”