In early 2012, I watched the Christopher Petit film, Radio On. In making his road movie, Petit was attempting to bring British cinema away from the influence of Hollywood and up from the gutter of the ‘Carry On…’ and ‘Confessions Of…’ productions of the time. He drew upon the European techniques of La Nouvelle Vague and Neue Deutsche Welle with their sometimes surreal and disjointed narrative. This resonates within me, and I see direct parallels to the photography of the Japanese triumvirate of Moriyama (Farewell Photography), Takanashi (Towards the City) and Nakahira (For a Language to Come), who were similarly influenced by these movements. Nakahira spoke of Godard’s films as a ‘chanced reality’ and how the images are just a subjective confrontation of a copy of that reality (1). What we see in photographs is not real, cannot be real.
This diary, a disjointed copy of my own reality, has grown from watching the film and the associations I have made between my own life on the road and the journey made by the lead character, Robert. That’s not to say our journeys are the same, far from it. There is a common theme though; the general monotony that blurs from day to day, interspersed with events that rise out of that monotony.
There is also the music. Robert listened to Kraftwerk and Bowie on his in-car tape player as he drove from London to Bristol. I have listened to similar music, played in my car through my iPhone. This music acts as a soundtrack to life, sometimes it is barely noticed, other times it speaks louder through connotations drawn between the lyrics and the events of the day. Those connotations can be extremely personal, as with photography and the visual connections that can be made to our experiences. Barthes spoke of the death of the author and how we give our own meaning to the images we see. The same can be said to be true of music, although perhaps to a lesser extent due to the literal nature of the words. It’s not unknown though for a lyric to be misheard or even for large sections of a song to be ignored in favour of an individual line, therefore allowing a song about loss and break-up to become a lovers’ favourite. The author has “died”. The best he can hope for is that some form of communication is taking place; that he is communicating in a language that the viewer, or listener, can understand and relate to in some way.
With this record, I have not tried to impart a specific meaning when that meaning will, in all likelihood, be lost on most people who look upon it. Instead I have put forward a stream from my consciousness, without deliberate narrative, interspersing with lyrics from the songs to which I have listened. These songs may or may not have a specific meaning to me, either in general or at particular moments during the six months or so that this work covers. Hopefully the viewer will bring to this collection something of their own life, therefore allowing it to become more of a collaboration, a sharing of the loneliness of the road.
(1) Nakahira, T. 1970. For a Language to Come. 2010 edition. Tokyo. Osiris