On waiting

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m in the process of making a film about waiting. When someone asks what I’m working on right now and I tell them this, it usually puzzles them.  I can understand why. It doesn’t sound promising material for a film.

So why am I doing it?

16 years ago, I finished a PhD in French and German philosophy. By the end, I’d spent seven years studying philosophy and it had done strange things to me. Anyway, after I’d finished the PhD I wrote a spoof philosophical paper about waiting. I can’t remember why I did that and I can’t remember exactly what I said because the paper is on an old computer which is sitting next to my desk and which hasn’t been switched on for 15 years. Anyway, the concept got stuck somewhere in my head.

If you look at most continental philosophers, you will see that they usually have one big concept which acts as the focus for their thinking. For Jean-Paul Sartre, it was freedom. For Michel Foucault it was power, for Marx, production, Martin Heidegger, time, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the body, and so on. Focusing on one concept enabled each of these writers to say interesting things about a load of other subjects; for each of them, one concept was a “way in” to understanding the world.

Right now, that is what I’m trying to do with the concept of waiting. I’m using it as a way in to explore other things.

Of course, there are two important differences. The first is that I’m not a famous and successful philosopher. (No, really, I’m not.) The second is that I’m examining the concept using video and not philosophy.

In using video I’m doing two things: In a not-so-very-short film that I’m putting together, I’m using the concept of waiting as a way in to talking about other themes and subjects. But I’m also using the concept as a way in to creatively explore the potential of video and this creative exploration is being played out in a series of very short films.

Here is the first:

Really, this first short film isn’t about waiting. Rather, the aim is to create the experience of waiting (but not a very long one).

Here’s the second:

This film does something different again. It presents two recordings of other people waiting, although like the first film it includes a section forcing the viewer to wait.

Finally, here is the third film:

This film seems to take as its subject the experience of waiting for a train. In fact, what makes it a film “about” waiting is that it was originally made whilst waiting for somebody. I recorded on an iPhone and then edited it on the phone whilst waiting in a cafe.  Waiting is therefore part of the film’s DNA, if you like.

So in each of these three films, I’ve used the concept of waiting as a way in to explore the different things I can do with video. Really, I could have chosen any concept.

If all of this sounds pretentious then I should add that these very short films are experiments and they aren’t intended seriously. They are forms of play aimed at enabling me to work out ideas and methods of representing those ideas using sound and moving images. Play is supposed to be fun, for me and for whoever watches these films. I hope that this comes across.

I call it Schrödinger’s computer. At the moment it neither works nor does not work. Only when I look will it become a working or a non-working computer.*

Probably. I never read Heidegger. If you did, and you know I’m wrong…shhhh!

Of course, I’ve cheated  because when I got home I tidied it all up on my desktop. But even the tidied up version of the film only exists because I was forced to hang around waiting for someone. (They weren’t late. I was two hours early….)

But I didn’t, although you might wish that I had chosen a more interesting concept. But you haven’t seen the final film yet. So hold that thought.

*I’m adopting the Copenhagen interpretation of Schrödinger’s thought experiment here. You might favour the Ensemble interpretation. Or one of the others. Or you might not care.

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