Diviner [2017]

22 min, 53 sec. Single channel film, 16mm film and betacam video transferred to digital, colour, dual mono.

Diviner takes its title from a short documentary 'Diviner Water in Luppitt' (1976), housed in the South West Film and Television Archive (SWFTA) in Plymouth. ‘Diviner’ is a term originating from the 15th century to describe a person who might use special powers to predict future events, or for someone who seeks out water under the ground with the use of a divining or dowsing rod.

Ideas of searching for meaning in matter score the work, structured as a visual and aural script, in which a conversation occurs between voices and incidental sounds in the original recordings. Diviner is formed almost entirely from moving image material held at SWFTA, apart from the opening sequence, which was filmed on 16mm in the archives. Here, the telecine process is recorded - the transfer of analogue film to a digital format - of a section of footage used within Diviner itself. Archival material includes 'behind the scenes' on other productions in the South West, amongst them: 'Far from the Madding Crowd' [1967], 'Straw Dogs' [1971], 'The Shout' [1978], and 'Dracula' [1979]; to science education films about the cosmos, news reports of UFO sightings, demonstrations against education funding cuts, tattooed memorials, natural disasters and cultic practices.

Diviner meditates on our understanding of the transmitted image, and suggests that history, rather than occurring within a linear narrative, is cyclical and bound to repeat. In this way, the past is a spectral scribe to the present, where the archive becomes a sentient, conversant being.

Diviner is a film created for the Peninsula Arts Film Commission 2016, a partnership between Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University, the South West Film and Television Archive and The Box, Plymouth. The film is currently being shown at Tate St Ives (2018); and previously at the Jill Craigie Cinema, Plymouth and at Peninsula Arts (2017/2018); and the Phoenix Cinema, Leicester (2017). Forthcoming presentations include an exhibition at The Bower, London, curated by Joyce Cronin and Louisa Bailey of Luminous Books.