Finally done

I have been trying to create a video essay that would sum up my work on The Red Telephone Box That Talks a Bit Like Me. For some reason I need to do this. I think it’s about completion/closure/to have some tangible artifact to show off. My original intention was to accompany it with an academic journal article. I have also started that several times but I knew I had lost the plot when my last attempt began with me recalling the death of the family dog and my career in HMV records and how I was inspired by a scratched copy of a Karlheinz Stockhausen disc to embrace serendipity as part of my creative process – dear oh dear… pretentious or what! It’s been a right struggle and on and off has taken a year. I haven’t counted the number of failed attempts I have made but my poor family and friends have had to endure showings of all of them. The last one was 30 minutes long and very dull. This one is 13 minutes long and much better. It is to be my last attempt. It’s finally done (emboldened to remind self). I will do something else for a while and then try to write the article before the anniversary of my retirement from Hull in October. Then I feel it’s time to enjoy my phone box as was originally intended as a tiny private theatre instead of a obsessive, creative and academic mission.

The footage was all shot on an oldish mobile phone which I must say I am rather proud of as I was always trying to persuade my students (unsuccessfully) not bother with the fancy gear they could borrow from the uni which would inevitably go wrong or be so complicated they couldn’t figure it. Let me know what if anything emerges from the video that’s actually clear or better still, interesting. Although I have not the slightest intention of changing a thing even if nobody gets it. More than anything I need to stop trying to make this video now and forever.

One thought on “Finally done

  1. Paul Alan Barker

    The Red Telephone Box that talks a bit like me.

    A Review by Paul Alan Barker

    This is an autobiography by Chris Newell, Chris Newell and Chris Newell. The three voices – recorded, synthesised and real – appear as three objects: the eponymous box, the black or night version, illuminated by the moon. They weave a complex, non-linear web around a story that celebrates failure in the form of a musical trio.

    The voices often speak simultaneously forcing the listener to several simultaneous and perhaps contradictory perspectives which move from humour to tragedy in the same breath. The user instructions from an obsolete form carry much resonance for those able to remember the old phones but the consequences of dialling one number or another provide a random element referred to in some of the quotations. They are tantalisingly out of the audience’s control, making you want to enter and dial.

    In this context, the music heard provides not a backing-track but another layer of voices. Pauses and silences are not merely used as meaningful elements but demonstrated and explained within the narrative.

    The work is short and intense and the experience for the audience (more than a listener or viewer) is unsettling, because of the speed at which pathos and conflict collide and give way to each other.

    There is a strong self-contradictory theme which permeates the work and defies simple categorisation. It seems to work extraordinarily hard (without appearing to) at not taking itself seriously at all. I am left beguiled, as if I had just had an extraordinarily enjoyable conversation with an old friend, even though I am not quite sure what was said. An unexpected and inexplicable treat.

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