16 February 2010

Reflections on reflections on water

In most cities there are large bodies of water. 

In London there is the River Thames
there are lakes in parks
the Serpentine in Hyde Park
numerous canals
Regent’s Canal.

In Melbourne there are also canals
unlike those in London
are constructed primarily for storm water drainage.

Not for transport.

In Melbourne there are the rivers Yarra
a fresh water river
and Maribyrnong
a salt water river.
There is Port Philip Bay
into which both rivers flow.

Public Water.

The idea of urban bodies of water as public space.

But what is ‘public’ about bodies of water? 

Urban space can be public
loose space
but it is often
pseudo public
it is often
private space
where photography and filming is not allowed
without permission.

This has increased
with fear of terrorism
and photography in public space
can attract police attention.

What is the status of urban water? 

What is the nature
of the ownership of water
fluid public space
never twice stepped in.

Transport and Recreation.

Reflections on water
when photographed
what is the image?

Reflection is an image
water is a medium
and a lens
(albeit distorting).

Will the security guards at Canary Wharf allow me to photograph the buildings as reflected in the water?

The Hungry Miles - WWFFU

The Hungry Miles is a documentary made by Norma Disher, Keith Gow and Jock Levy for the (Australian) Waterside Workers' Federation Film Unit in 1955.

The Waterside Workers' Federation Film Unit [...] crossed the two intentions of 'art' and 'message' in a way which remains well worth study today. Its film-makers, harnessing the formal innovations of the new documentary, spoke for a group not other- wise represented in the mainstream media, engaging in cinema as a form of direct action mirroring the industrial and political campaigns which provided the content of some of their films.

The unit, with their Kombi, screened films in the traditional waterside communities of Woolloomooloo, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. They went further afield, to Melbourne, and to the Newcastle, Hunter Valley and Wollongong dockside and mining areas. The films were bought by other unions, community groups, libraries and government departments, won prizes locally and overseas, and were to be found on the programs of film society and festival screenings throughout Australia.

from ‘The Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit: the forgotten frontier of the fifties’ by Martha Ansara and Lisa Milner

12 February 2010