Drawing on Film - Workshop at Tate Summer School

I was asked by Anna Lucas to run a 16mm workshop over a day and a half as part of the Tate Summer School 2016. We started the day with a warm up activity. We played an early 16mm negative film on a projector, then reeled the film out across the space (the whole 100ft) and I asked the 30 participants to colour the film using sharpies. They had about 4 ft each. Every couple of minutes I asked them to swap. The idea was to cover as much film as quickly as possible. We then fed the end of the film into the projector and it dragged across the space as it was projected. This is the result.

Some of my Sculptures Move From Left to Right

Some of my sculptures move from left to right from Bill Leslie on Vimeo.

This was the film that resulted form the shoot using the Canon C3000 and motorised slider. It was shown at the 'Research in Focus' exhibition at KU.

Shooting objects with Canon C3000 and slider

Working in the film studio with the Canon C3000 crewed by fine art undergraduates. We were trying to find ways for objects to enter and leave the frame. Initially I thought that pairing the super high definition camera with some obviously hand operated revolves and slides would be interesting, but the quality of the image meant that wobbly movement looked really circumspect. We spent a lot of time with a motorised slider to create shots where objects smoothly moved across the frame. The slider was only 1m long which restricted what we were able to shoot in order for things to enter and leave the frame. Larger objects had to be cropped close, but the results were amazing. The clarity of the images with the perfect smoothness of the pan are very enticing. Being able to make out all of the surface texture in the small plaster pieces feels intoxicating.

Methodology Workshop with first year Fine Art Students at Kingston University, London

I ran a two-day methodology workshop which became known as 'Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained'. Students were asked to bring in a piece of work - something they weren't entirely sure about, something unfinished or that had been hanging around for a while. They paired up and swapped artworks without explanation and spent 10 minutes quietly looking at and considering each others work. After 10 minutes they had to return the work to its owner with an instruction or task that would develop the piece and had to be completed within an hour. The brief was to try and stretch each other as far as possible. If it was an object, make it a performance, if it was a film, make it a drawing etc... After the hour we regrouped, changed partners and repeated.

At the end of the second day we made an impromptu exhibition,

It's a film

It’s a film. They’re all films. Things appear and then go abruptly. They move, are moved amidst the whirr and clatter of the mechanism. They judder and flicker and glow and fade haphazardly. The action is simple. Things appear, or move in to the centre of the stage. They are handled, stroked, turned, lifted and replaced.

There is movement even when there isn’t any. How many people are present? Who is this for? Why this sequence? Why these movements?

The things themselves are white against the black background. Beneath them the back surface is marked and whitened, presumably by the objects. How long has this been going on for? Are these only a few of many more in a larger sequence? Or has this happened many times before, the same 9 objects appearing again and again, marking and scuffing?

There is no sound, apart from the mechanical clatter, but the way the objects are handled, presented, suggests a kind of patter. A demonstration, but for whom? The missing words seem conspicuous, but to hear them would probably be a disappointment.

They are not all white, some of them look grey-ish.

They’re supposed to be sculptures, apparently.

Written during a writing workshop run by Brain Dillon at KU May 2016

9 Objects

9 Objects from Bill Leslie on Vimeo.

The first 16mm film that I feel to be a finished work. It was made as one roll of 100ft reversal to be screened at  Analogue Recurring 2016.

Typology of the Pictured Sculpture

Over the last year I have been collecting images of sculpture from books and essays. The idea is to bring together references and to order them loosely in types with the hope that seeing them placed together will bring about new relationships and connections. This is an ongoing project that I will continue adding images to. I would like to make something similar for references I have gathered of sculpture on film but am as yet unsure as to what form this should take.


(Shooting ‘9 Objects’ 16mm film)

Shooting this film has felt like a performance or a choreography. There is a list on paper, small pen drawings of each in sequence running down the page, annotated with length of time, focal distance and f-stop. There is a table with a black paper backdrop which curves down to the table top. There are two lights, one on the left side points across the table the other, on the right is angled up towards the ceiling. There is a small white circle glued to the paper at the centre of the table. There are white marks and scrapes all around it. The camera is on a tripod and faces the centre of the table. There is a collection of small objects on top of a chest of drawers to the left of the table.

The choreography goes like this. An object is taken from the chest of drawers and placed onto the white spot. The camera is wound. The paper is consulted. A magnifying glass and the torch on an iphone are used to set the focal length and aperture, then the focal length on the viewfinder. The tripod is moved, a tape measure used to get the corresponding distance from the object. The viewfinder and the wind handle on the tripod are used to centre the object. The camera is triggered and a timer started. After a moment the object is moved and handled as appropriate and replaced. It is removed and the camera trigger films black for a second.

Shoot Schedule for 9 Objects

5 Towers

5 Towers from Bill Leslie on Vimeo.

Shot more towers. After a discussion with Dean Kenning (first supervisor) it seemed that the least interesting aspect of the collapsing towers was the collapse. So I shot footage of constructions using the wind handle on my tripod to make shaky pans up and down. We also wondered what it meant to make a still moving image and perhaps this film approaches that question. There is so much movement even in a static shot when using 16mm. We also talked about cutting from the standing tower to the result of the collapse which happens at the end of this film. I'm not sure yet whether this is interesting or not, but the texture and feel of this footage I really like.


Bisanbos from Bill Leslie on Vimeo.

Suggested to Jo Addison (my supervisor) that we could film something together, something of her's. I'd seen this piece 'Bisanbos' at her show at Tintype. I thought it would be interesting to film a 'finished piece' or a sculpture that existed in it's own right, as most of the things I've shot so far have felt like things made to be filmed. Things I've made to try out. It's edited to two short Faust tracks. Not sure how successful this is but really interesting to think about sound and to film someone else's work - a way of spending time and getting to know something much better. I really love the initial shot of it rotating at the edge of the shot. Watching it now, it's so bonkers I'm not sure what to make of it.

Also shot some 16mm which couldn't look more different! Like some sort of lost sci-fi from the 1020s. There's something about the lack of definition and the overwhelming contrast which could be interesting.

Bisanbos 16mm from Bill Leslie on Vimeo.

Research Motage

Research montage from Bill Leslie on Vimeo.

I made this video for a presentation about my 'research so far'. Not sure if it explains or mystifies what I'm doing but it was good to put reference material against my own work. Better than talking anyhow!
Collapsing Towers Vimeo from Bill Leslie on Vimeo<

Collapsing towers footage. There was a great joy in the studio in knocking these over and then reviewing the results, but now as a video, I'm not so sure this is all that interesting. The magic moment seems to be when the towers hover for a second in the air but still maintain their coherence as structures. The resulting tumble seems inevitable and a little obvious.

Collapsing Towers 16mm from Bill Leslie on Vimeo.

The 16mm however is quite exciting. Hand processed these in old chemicals and the bleach had gone off. The image is negative but really marked by putting it in the old bleach - which has messed with the celluloid but not reversed it!

Collapsing Towers Slomo Shoot

Filming in the studio at KU with Phantom camera and a collection of building blocks I have cut from old roof beams. The idea was to build structures and catch them collapsing or falling. We soon found the most successful way to work was to hit the table from beneath to make the objects leap in the air and then collapse. Worked with undergraduates and with a friends some who is 16 and they all seemed to find this really engaging.

Also shot on the Phantom and Bolex at the same time (100fps compared to 64fps) to compare results.

Second 16mm Reversal film 'Objects Made Backwards'

16mm Reversal Film 2 from Bill Leslie on Vimeo.

I wanted to make something that could be moved in front of the camera, obviously by hand, but without any hands present. I made three long pieces that could slide back and forth by cutting MDF and coating it in plaster.

Jo came to my studio recently and saw the objects and said it was like they were 'made backwards' or with the camera in mind. That the movement brought out by the camera was somehow inherent in the objects themselves. They afford a particular type of action in front of the camera. This feels important!

3D Model

3D model (Arp) from Bill Leslie on Vimeo.

I have been exploring 3D scanning and animation, using the 3D scanner at Kingston University and Blender. The scanner is incredibly cronky for something so high tech - it only has one scanner that goes up and down while the object rotates so it misses anything concave or even flat and running perpendicular to the scanner. The technician told me that the ideal object would be a perfect sphere so I started playing around with forms that might be smooth and bulbous and that would return a good scan. After some touching up in Meshmixer I used blender to make the object rotate. I love the surreal smoothness of the rotation.

I also got the object printed so I could play around filming it

Hand-processed medium format photographs, taken with 8 second exposures in a darkened room.

I've been reading a lot about early photography of antiquities in the late 19th century. How the aura of the ancient and broken objects is doubled by the aura of the faded and scratched images. I made these in response. Showed them at a PhD seminar with mixed response. It was felt that the images were too clearly and uncomplicatedly referencing these old photographs or at least this idea of the aura. I think there's something to this, but it is interesting to see these objects recast in this way. They don't feel as successful as the 16mm works I've been making which arguably are doing a similar thing with the faux ageing of the film. I'm struggling to find stills interesting at the moment, everything is moving in the film and video work, how can stills compete?!

New Photos of recent sculptures shot with DSLR