Spider 16mm 11 minutes colour silent 1979 / short extract

A hand held 16mm camera was framed and focused on the centre of a spider’s web for a continuous duration of 11 minutes, the length of a 400ft reel of 16mm film. It presents the spectator with a ‘real time’ phenomenological experience in ‘on screen’ observation and anticipation as the film unfolds. It also holds out the potential of foregrounding, through the film’s duration, an awareness of internal thought activity. A sense of the film’s intentionality is enhanced for the viewer by the use of a hand held camera which moves in a distinctive way in a continuous effort  to keep both the centre and the ‘fineness’ of the spider’s web in focus.  Chance plays a part in the way in which different unpredictable phenomena have the potential to enter the confines of the framed area of the spider’s web during the filming stage.

The film was framed so that the actual spider was situated just outside of the left hand edge of the frame in ‘out of frame space’. This enabled opportunities during filming for any unsuspecting insect or fly which might get caught in the web to trigger the spider into activity and movement into the centre of the framed area. An analogy could be made with the spider waiting for something to enter its web, and the film viewer waiting in the cinema anticipating of events to unfold within the ‘on screen’ spider’s web. This is often the type of film footage that is immediately discarded by a wildlife production team with other representational agendas to serve.