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Sheepman & the Sheared : 1. Sheep 2. Sheepman

1968-73
Film
3 min + 10 min

A film in seven parts for continuous or individual single-screen projection. Total duration 2 hours 15 minutes. "The film takes Landscape as Object in front of the filmmaker and the Medium; it is not about rural life or the mythology of The Land, neither does it seek to present a personalised impression visual or otherwise of the state of residing in a rural district of the South West of England. The coincidence of flora, fauna and man-made object, processes and activities, with the film frame are in no way paramount to an inspection of the total film process by which an observation of this kind is made possible - specific conditions to do with both Nature and men's activity with Nature are recorded with the camera but is essentially subject to the observation and reaction of its operator. What is subsequently examined in the precise activity of assembly of the camera rolls: assembly such as in Window almost entirely dictated by the length of time the camera ran on each occasion; or in Farm which takes into account the pre-determined sub-assembly systems within each of the rolls before arriving at any final order, a decision more determined by a process of inspection and adjustment over a period of time".

Part 1. "Remains of a cut roll of rushes; images of sheep, splices, grease pencil marks, flash frames, images of marker boards and man talking to camera without sound."

Part 2. "Assembly from same found material altogether with other found footage and including humans, motor cars and other machines. Governed by a constant 12 frame/half second linear measurement of celluloid & being the durational basis for the selection and re-ordering of material originally destined to be ordered according to the dictates of an explanatory script. At an early stage the inclusion of opaque or partially opaque durations of celluloid, the rapid repetition of selected images, ordering according to binary system, all confound the interpretation of the passage of images". (1976)

The roll of 'found footage' came from the junk bin of a documentary that was never completed. It was first screened uncut during an open screening at the Arts Lab, Drury Lane, London in 1969, when the curator, David Curtis, required that it be given a title; which is was, on the spot. Some years later, after the whole series of films had been completed, a book was discovered with a similar title: The Shearers and the Shorn, by Ernest Martin. The book became a valuable source for a later series of works, Image Con Text.