Name: PAUL WINDRIDGE
Location: ISLE OF WIGHT
Mission: EXPLORING WHAT WE PERCEIVE TO BE REALITY THEN PRESENTING IT AS SOMETHING COMPLETE DIFFERENT, AND ATTEMPTING TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THERE’S MORE TO THE WORLD THAN MOST PEOPLE IMAGINE
In June this year I went to visit some old friends on the Isle of Wight. I even caught up with Rachel Berry, who I wrote about on The Spiralling quite a while ago now. At my first shift back in At-Bristol I got chatting to a man at reception. His name was Paul and it turned out that he was from the Isle of Wight! After chatting more we even worked out that we both new Rachel! He was visiting Bristol to talk about the possibility of showing some of his work in the Planetarium and when I saw some of it I offered to write a feature on him.
Paul is a self taught artist, short film, video, and music maker. “My parents tried to divert me onto an architectural path that would be much more likely to bear financial fruit, but still (to their credit) supported my preferred quest to follow my own path instead. I started my creative life as a painter and had several solo exhibitions. The still image was my speciality, but when the world turned digital it opened up possibilities I could never have imagined, so I started making music and moving image. I would consider all my work, whether audio or visual, primarily as atmospheric.”
For the moving image, Paul enjoys distorting time and space and opening up possibilities of multi-dimensional filmic universes. “I still use the same layering techniques I did when painting, and in some ways treat film/video as a moving canvas. My desire is to be able to stop my films at any point and for that single one twenty fifth of a second still frame to be good enough as an image in it’s own right. The still image is as important to me as the moving one. Making moving image is vastly different from painting.
When a painting is hung on a wall it is an image that can be interpreted in different ways, but essentially it never changes. Moving image can also be interpreted in many different ways but is constantly changing. Particularly when there is no dialogue it needs to be frequently varied enough to hold an audience’s attention. It no longer surprises me how much variation there needs to be in the footage used but it definitely did at first and was a huge challenge.” He hardly ever directs, but gathers footage bit by bit wherever he goes. “I try and have a camera with me at all times and shoot anything that seems vaguely interesting and then store it on the computer and in my head. Even for a short film of under 5 minutes the footage used could take days, weeks, or even years to amass.” He uses a similar process to make music. “It starts off as a montage of samples and other found, or personally recorded sounds. It ends up as a construction of rhythm based, atmospheric, dance or downbeat electronica to which I add melody. The compositions are mostly instrumental but occasionally Sujatha Menon from Satsangi (a band I work with) composes and sings vocals which are added after the original instrumental is finished.”
At the start of a film Paul never knows how it will evolve. “I believe it’s important to keep an open mind all the way through the process. It’s also important to allow myself head space and time to think to make sure the end product is as satisfactory as it possibly can be from my personal point of view. I like to think that all my work can be interpreted in the way any individual chooses so that it ultimately becomes more a part of them than it is a part of me.” He has recently been described as ‘a poet of digital cinematography – turning short zen-like meditations on fragments of the everyday world into visual and sonic experiences.’
Learning by a process of trial and error Paul has tried to remain as free from influence as possible and follow his own path. “I am aware that there will always be influences whether they are conscious or subliminal however, inspirational characters are different. My original inspirations were painters such as Post impressionists like Gauguin, Fauvists like Matisse, Expressionists like Ernst, Kirchner and Kandinsky, Surrealists like Dali, and Pop Artists like Warhol, Lichtenstein and Oldenburg. As for moving image, films (in no particular order) such as Blade Runner (Ridley Scott), 2046 (Wong Kar-Wai), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry), House of Flying Daggers and Hero (Yimou Zhang), Sin City (Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez), Northfork (Michael Polish), Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky) and many more I’ve missed out.”
Every year Paul holds his own alternative short film evenings at The Piano Cafe, Freshwater Bay. “This is two evenings of short films from around the world. I curate all the work and, naturally, always include one of my own films in each session too. I do this under the name MIST (Moving Image, Sound & Things). This work includes outdoor projection of moving image (short films or VJ-ing) on big screens at island based festivals such as the main Isle of Wight Music Festival, MondoMix and Ventnor International Festival, and anywhere else I fancy projecting moving image. Places like, on cliffs, the seashore, in woods, in gardens, on sides of buildings – anywhere!”
Paul’s proudest moments have been having his work shown at various events around the world. “My films have been shown in various film and arts festivals including: Paris, St Petersburg, Berlin and Zurich. It has also been shown in events at Tate Britain, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: on BBC Big Screens nationwide, Big Screen Project Manhattan and at BBC Electric Proms. I also won an image competition with Adobe back in 1998-9, which sent us to New York on Concorde and a few nights at The Plaza, Central Park. That was a great prize!”
As with a lot of artists, Paul certainly doesn’t do what he does to make money. “I do it because I love it. I used to paint and have exhibitions, and now make short films and music and put on events, and I do what I do because I want to express what is inside me – my view of the world in which I live, both real and imaginary. It becomes a way of life – a reason to be – a necessity. I have always done this in one way or another. I would get very bored with regular work and being told what to do. I need to keep challenging myself to find new means of expression, and I expect that will be the way right to the end. That’s not to say that going through life making my own way and always being self employed, never working for anyone, or as I would say, having a ‘proper job’, hasn’t been a massive challenge, but it’s been worth it.”
Paul’s latest project ‘The Sonosphere‘ started as an 11 track CD.”I then started to make films to go with the music and, as everything was progressing well, decided to make films for all the tracks. I then had a CD and a DVD, but to be true to my belief that the still image is as important as the moving one, I chose four still frames (each – one 25th of a second) from each film and made them into a 48 page book which includes descriptions by a friend of mine, Bob Cotton, who I had been helping with promos for his mammoth project ‘The Inspiratorium’. Having had copies of CDs, DVDs and the books done I now have to figure out how to sell them!” If you’d like to purchase any of Paul’s work please follow the links below.