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Guy Sherwin
In recent years Sherwin has produced several films of more variable lengths, which are loosely grouped around common subjects, such as trains or animals, and which explore qualities of movement inherent in these.

The Train Films (some of which are also part of the Short Film Series) have been assembled as a separate group, formed of old and new films, in the process of which they have been given soundtracks and renamed. All the films so far made have titles which denote specific musical forms; Canon, Stretto, or instructions; Da Capo, Rallentando. The films are structured according to these formal principles of staggered repetition, contraction/overlapping and slowing down, but the aim is also to draw attention to the primacy of the films forms. They were partly inspired by the movements and parallax effects of objects appearing to cross each other when viewed from a moving train, as well as thinking about the parallels between film form and train journeys. In Chimney/Canon (1978/2001), for example, a tall chimney was filmed from a train window as it passed through the industrial landscape of the English West Midlands. Because the chimney is always framed centrally, the straight line of the trains trajectory becomes an apparently circular one: we seem to be on a giant carousel, which is rotating around the chimney.

Night Train/Stretto (1979/2001) was shot from a moving train at night, using time exposures of half a second per frame. The camera records passing lights as traces, so the nearer the objects to the train, the longer the trace. This is related to the familiar travel experience whereby we appear to pass nearer objects faster than distant ones. The result is a black screen with abstract horizontal white lines, where distant light sources trace short feint lines, and near ones long bright lines. The judder of the train also effects the appearance of the trace, imparting a zigzag which makes it look even more like an ECG scan. The train draws itself across the light sources, but because the camera is fixed relative to the train, it is the lights that appear to draw themselves across the train window and onto the celluloid, making lines in the same way that a glacier acquires striations from the rocks it passes. (These lines are also extended into the optical sound area at the edge of the film). The continuous flow pauses once or twice when the train stops at a station and a naturalistic image abruptly forms. The striking contrast between these two kinds of image forces us to rethink our experience of night travel. We conceive of the distant lights and the railway stations as roughly the same kinds of thing, yet the visual trace of these presents us with images so distinct as to seem almost mutually exclusive beyond the common denominator of light.

Still from Rallentando from The Train Films by Guy Sherwin, 1977 - 2004
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