A time-travelling voyage through one city, assembled from hundreds of movie clips and inspired by the wanderings of Walter Benjamin.
A patchwork of over 300 features either filmed or set in London, Citation City combines multiple narratives to create the story of one city in a period of enormous change. Pieced together by audiovisual artist Vicki Bennett (aka People Like Us), this beguiling, labyrinthine work takes its cue from Benjamin’s Arcades Project, an ambitious attempt to map out Paris in fragments which was cut short by the author’s death in 1940.
Citation City sources, collage and edits 300 major feature films where content is either filmed or set in London – creating a story within a story, of the film world, living its life, through extraordinary times of change, to see what happens when these multiple narratives are combined… what will the story tell us that one story alone could never tell?
Inspired by The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin, this audiovisual work is created from 1000s of clippings of text and visual media, collaged using a system of “convolutes”, collated around subjects of key motifs, historical figures, social types, cultural objects from the time. By gathering and assembling such groups of similar yet unrelated, he revealed a hidden, magical encyclopaedia of affinities, a massive and labyrinthine architecture of a collective dream city. On reading Benjamin, his approach to editing astonished Vicki Bennett, and the similarity of their creative processes of cutting and collating extensive lists of subject matter by context.
In the live performance a series of story lines (convolutes) sit side by side with a soundtrack sourced both from the movie content, as well as new sample compositions thematically related to the visual content.
Alongside the creation and performance of the work, Vicki is also inviting selected sound artists to create distinct soundtracks to the work in order to produce a special series of films that will be published online in 2015.
“The result is a sweeping panorama of London, a London as represented through cinema – not the real city at all, but one that exists in the collective imagination of moviegoers throughout the decades.” Filmmaker Magazine
A significant portion of Citation City previewed at London’s Cafe Oto on 9 December 2014 then World Premiered in full at transmediale, Berlin on 29 January 2015. It will UK Premiere at Flatpack Film Festival on 28 March 2015.
Citation City is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Citation City education/teaching pack
PDF download: citation city teaching pack
We thought it may be useful to make a document explaining the process of making this work. This pdf is intended as a companion to the audiovisual work, giving examples of the process one might undertake to create new work when sourcing from a large media database. This particular example relates to moving image and musical composition, but the methods can translate to other platforms that use composition, directing, editing, creative narratives and story telling.
9 December 2014 Cafe Oto preview http://www.cafeoto.co.uk/jennifer-walshe-sharon-gal-andie-brown-people-like-us.shtm
29 January 2015 World Premiere at transmediale, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
28 March 2015 UK Premiere at Flatpack Film Festival, Birmingham, as part of a larger WFMU and Walter Benjamin-themed programme
17 April 2015 Parede, Portugal
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/citationcity
Press and articles:
Interview in Filmmaker Magazine (January 2015)
InEnArt Magazine (January 2015)
(see below for Press images)