In February 2021, Catriona Gallagher devised and facilitated a 3 week course ‘Camera as eye, feet on the land, tremor in the voice – moving image in remote landscape’ for Newcastle University students as part of the Fine Art department’s LifeWorkArt programme.
The sessions included a mix of outdoor walking workshops, film and video screenings, writing exercises and technical advice on audio and video recording. Inspired by Catriona’s practice, the students spent time deconstructing filmmaking processes into sound, language and visuals over the three weeks. Their discussions included the camera as eye, voice vs written language, the notion of place, deep ecologies and unstable subjectivities. Although the course was moved online, the participants undertook walks in their local areas each week, collecting audio-visual material to share in the online meetings and virtually leading each other around their chosen locations. We hope to invite the students to Highgreen as soon as it is safe to do so.
In week one, the workshop began with a pecha kucha presentation of the participants’ work and a screening of Catriona’s previous films. Then heading outdoors into the early February snow, Catriona invited the students to each go for an hour long walk in their local area, focusing on sound and language to record audio on their phones. They then regathered online and listened to the audio recordings without any visual information to identify the places by. Considering how to adapt to the lack of access to art school equipment during lockdown, they reviewed the benefits and technical difficulties of working with audio only. They later watched films and artworks which use sound and language more prominently than images.
In week two, Catriona began with screening an extract of her film work in progress and a discussion about walks in forestry plantations, before the participants listened back to extra recordings from the first walk. She then guided a writing workshop to generate text on the places visited the week before, with writing prompts and readings of the resulting text fragments. The students then departed to undertake a second walk, returning to the locations they’d first visited to record visuals, again using phone cameras, but this time for still images and video.
In the final week, the participants shared the material collected on their previous walks, visiting their chosen locations in quite different weather. Their discussion analysed the process of breaking down filmmaking into its constituent parts of sound, language and image, as well as the significance of place in their walks. Catriona gave a presentation on her past exhibitions, collective work and residencies, as well as leading a technical session on her use of audio/visual equipment and editing software. Together they reflected on the material gathered, discussed plans for further walks and shared thoughts and feedback on how they might take forward the new material and processes into future work.