A Version of Us (2011) 02:24

A 16mm film created by exposing inkjet prints of digitised analogue video 8 footage directly onto the film.

16mm with optical sound

A Version of Us explores how we perceive captured images of our life as “memories”.

In reality, a photograph or video isn’t a memory to begin with - it’s just one version of what happened, captured in a lens. But over time, these images often seem to become the memory in our minds, perhaps supplemented with an emotional feeling of what it was like to be there.

Process

Helen Nias created A Version of Us at Nanolab in Daylesford, Australia, with support from Richard Tuohy. The starting point was a 16mm rayogramme (photogram) workshop. Helen often animates paper photograms in her short films, so the workshop was the perfect opportunity to adapt this process to 16mm film.

The images in the film originally derived from analogue video 8 footage of Helen and her siblings, shot by the their father during their childhood in the 90s.

Helen digitised this footage, then extracted film stills and arranged these into strips in Photoshop. She printed these using an inkjet printer, and photogrammed the frames directly onto the film in the darkroom.

The soundtrack was edited digitally and then recorded optically onto the film strip.

Using process to symbolise memory

The original video was one version of the events that happened, separate to any remaining memories, and this piece further removes the imagery from the original events.

The film deliberately draws attention to the various media through the glitches (for example video 'snowstorms' and pixellation), and the texture of ink on the paper.

Review by Pascal Ancel Bartholdi, following the film's screening at Analogue Recurring in 2012

Here, stills awaken, as they do in dreams. They come to life while being pushed almost disorderly into and more so under the skin of celluloid. What happens is not a film running as a story but a broken narrative, motion arising as if by accident from their symbiosis. The sequencing is made of repellent frames, it feels disjointed, and this is accentuated by the optical sound. The once immobilized now galvanized souvenir speaks a language that differs from the vulgar linear book ended memorabilia of the photo album. The substance of photographic memory is deconstructed, disparate frames sewn up together to approximate the actuality of a moment. In this, it is so much closer to a live memory; savage, ephemeral, elusive and practically unreadable.

Please get in touch at contact(at)helennias(dot)co(dot)uk if you know of any 16mm screening opportunities in the UK or Australia.