A couple of weeks ago me and my friend Andrea (a relatively famous Italian film critic) were at the S1 Artspace (S1 Artspace Facebook Page) in Sheffield.
We’ve attended an experimental arts event.
As the main description on the booklet summarises very well, “A long walk to grimethorpe is a project that is made up of two complementary parts: a new piece of music for brass band. And a documentary film that explores both the creation of that piece and the cultural context within which it emerges”.
The first part of the performance is a short movie that focuses on Joe Snape’s inspirational walk. The creative music composer embarks on the 20 miles long journey, that will bring him from Sheffield to Grimethorpe. He is equipped with a set of technical devices that will allow him to record the sounds along his trip. The equipment is mounted on a tuba. Yes, a tuba. That cumbersome musical instrument made of brass, to be precise the largest of the brass family.
The documentary deals also with the musical heritage of South Yorkshire. Joe has to reach Grimethorpe in time for the evening rehearsal of the world famous local band, the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
The film alternates scenes of the actual walk with interviews to the components of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band and archive footage of brass bands from Yorkshire. The director serves a skillfully stirred mixture of english humorous jokes, wet atmospheres, nostalgic retrò hints and changes of perspective. This results in an enjoyable and stimulating metaphorical trip where music is the link that connects past to present, passion to creativity, Sheffield to Grimethorpe.
What is really interesting about this formula is that the film, as shown, was not yet complete. Experimental director Ismar Badzic filmed the performance itself. The audience reactions both as a whole and individually. The viewer takes part in what will be the ultimate result of this creative process.
Part 2 was performed live, by the University of Sheffield Brass Band and by Joe Snape himself. A powerful mixture of recordings from the nature along the path and a series of brass pieces inspired by the walk. The results were overwhelmingly effective. The HD video shown, together with the music performance, projected the audience into the journey. The viewer could savour the stimuli in what really felt like a first person experience.
The atypical way of recording environmental noises, with a microphone fitted into the pipe of a tuba, exalted those subtle vibrations proper of nature sounds.
Joe Snape makes things with sounds. These are always for listening to, and often also for looking at.
His work straddles idioms from storytelling with homemade electronics to analogue A/V with incandescent light bulbs. Recently, he has performed his work at De Melkweg, Amsterdam; ACUD Theater, Berlin; Cafè Oto, LondonL Wonder Site, Tokyo; and The Kitchen, New York City. Joe studied music at the University of Cambridge, Oxford, and California, Berkeley. You can find more at http://joesna.pe
Ismar Badzic is a British-Bosnian director inspired by real life. FAscinated by the emotion derived from the interaction between people and the world around them, he seeks to capture true moments with cinematic elegance. Ismar has built up a rich and wide reaching body of work. A number of his short films and documentaries have been nominated and screened at festivals including Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (2013/2014), Mountain Film Festival, USA (2013) and London Short Film Festival (2014). Ismar is a finalist philosophy student at the University of Sheffield. You can find more at http://glovesandglass.com