There are two main ideas that I am approaching this project with, starting off with these things as propositions. The work will develop out of the encounter between the propositions and the experience of the archive as a whole and as a specific collection of media.
‘a man defines himself by his make-believe as well as by his sincere impulses.’
– Albert Camus.
I began my proposal by quoting Albert Camus. What it means for the project in a direct way is that I am going to look at the narrative fiction the archive holds rather than the mass of un-constructed documentary, or observational footage, which I believe is the character of a significant percentage of media in the North West Film Archive. The quote posits the idea of make-believe in contrast to sincere impulses, so in the context of the archive, the contrast between the constructed narrative fiction and the observational film.
Using the quote in this way is problematic but it is the problems that lead me into the project proper. The quotation could give the impression that I am trying to catch people out, giving themselves away, defining themselves unawares. It is not the unwitting quality of the narrative fiction that I am interested in, but the witting, the constructed articulation. The as well as part of Camus’s formulation implies a balance or tension between the two aspects, but no promise of an actual or ultimate definition to be reached, only that one is as valid an entry point as the other. The lining up of make-believe and fiction is awkward. Make-believe is largely an internal activity, a fantasy scenario or event articulating or accommodating desire. Filmmaking is a much trickier, more hindered, less fluid activity that exists in the world. So the films I will be viewing and working with are some sort of articulation or definition, but what of?
The second proposition is to align myself with the makers of the films as another filmmaker, preferencing the similarity of our activity over the difference in context, (the time and conditions in which they were working as far as I would be able to perceive or understand those differences). This positioning is something of a gesture to alleviate the burden of the work becoming historical evidence of us, then, as documents in archives are generally required to become. Pushing this further, I will consider it a collaboration. Having worked in collaboration significantly more than on my own, it is as much a practical position as a theoretical one and anticipates a process of exchange.
Camus, A. Trans. O’Brien, Justin (1942), The Myth of Sisyphus, 6th ed. London: Penguin Books