Adam Roberts

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Stop Quartet / film 1996

44 mins, 16mm, 1.66:1, b&w


“Rhythm is a matter of proportion not of accent”, Arthur Schnabel.

A film that records a complete dance piece. It records 44 mins of dance movement without overlap. The duration of the shots, and the speed of the dolly movement (always from left to right starting at the same place), is laid out according to a pre-determined pattern. Some passages are replaced by black, with the soundtrack continuing over. These (visual) silences are also organised according to a scaled version of the pattern, providing punctuation.

The camera movement is always slow, such that it becomes (most) apparent during the pauses in the dance piece (the stops of the title). Awareness of dance and its filming will slip back and forth. When the dancers pause, the camera movement is most apparent, when they move again, it drops from awareness.

In addition, the footstep sounds move in and out of sync, according to a scaled version of the pattern. This provides another mesh, whose movement will at times be apparent, at other times not. Sound in sync tends to be invisible, but slightly out not so.

The camera frames the stage, not the dancers. This is a kind of reference to how dance is sometimes documented, but the patterning and rhythm contradicts that feeling.

The meshing of the various rhythmic elements interacting with the clear structures of the dance performance produces a new pattern, arising out of the interaction, intangible, apprehended in the mind's eye of the viewer: ebbing and flowing. The effect might be compared to the phenomenon of interference fringes, called a moiré pattern, observed when two patterns are overlaid - producing apparent ripples. Phase is all.

The question is whether tension and attention are possible without conventional montage. If it is, then in this film the forward momentum must be achieved by rhythmic devices depending on proportion, not on accent.

dancers: Jonathan Burrows, Henry Montes,

Fin Walker, Kate Gower

choreography: Jonathan Burrows

film lighting: Jack Hazan

lighting design: Michael Hulls

music: Matteo Fargion and Kevin Volans

director/camera/editing: Adam Roberts

funded by The Arts Council of England and supported by the Prudential Corporation

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