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Blight

John Smith
1994-6
14mins Colour 16mm to video

Blight

Blight was made in collaboration with the composer Jocelyn Pook. It revolves around the building of the M11 Link Road in East London, using images and sounds of demolition and road building in conjunction with the spoken words of local residents.

Taking these actualities as its starting point, Blight creates its own enigmatic stories, transforming the mundane into the mysterious. The musical qualities of the speech fragments and natural sounds form the basis of the score. Although the film is constructed from images and sounds of real events, Blight breaks down the conventional boundaries between documentary and drama, exploring the ambiguities of reality to create metaphorical fictions.

''A stunning montage depicts the destruction of a London street to make way for new roads. The rhythmic, emotive soundtrack is partly musical and partly a collage of the residents' voices. Shots and sounds echo and cross-link in the film's 14 minutes to reinvent a radical documentary tradition.'' A.L. Rees A History of Experimental Film and Video 1999, British Film Institute.

''In the first few minutes of his film Blight, derelict houses appear to be dismembering themselves. Bricks rattle, mortar falls, and wooden beams are dislodged, seemingly by poltergeist activity (a feeling reinforced by a poster for the film The Exorcist, on a bedroom wall that has become newly exposed to daylight). The claw of a bulldozer is filmed, ominously caressing a chimney stack it is about to tear down. But the shot stops short, and the inevitable destruction happens in our heads, not on the screen. The restraint of John's editing beautifully undercuts the emotive quality of the music (composed by his collaborator Jocelyn Pook), and the music in turn replaces the drama that hits the cutting room floor.'' Cornelia Parker 'John Smith's Body' in John Smith: Film and Video Works 1972-2002.

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