losing location by simon yuill


losing location - falling - the falling body can, of course, be tracked but for those of us accustomed to positioning ourselves in relation to feet on the ground, falling, we are essentially lost 


being in the air is getting away from it - becoming groundless - because we are not birds, flight is not innate and therefore must be understood as a variety of falling - falling in the wrong direction - what does not come down, flies 


less than a third of the picture surface is occupied by sky - a substantial part is sea - wooden ships at half-mast rest upon it - in the foreground the brow of a hill furrowed by a farmer and his horse - below a shepherd with his flock - below him another drops a line for fish into the water - in the distance the sun sinks into the horizon and a bird-like shadow passes over the edge of a city - in the lower right corner a splash and a pair of legs slip into the water - not someone diving but Icarus falling from the sky - nobody notices - in a time before radar, before the possibility of flight was available for all, nobody sees those who fly or fall 


radar makes visible that which is airborne yet invisible - it does so through a translation between frequencies and modalities of perception - it is a kind of kinetic or even haptic form of sight - radio waves bouncing off solid objects translated into pictures on a screen - objects are 'touched' and transcribed - it is also a time- based form of vision - distances measured in terms of the time taken for the echoed waves to bounce back - during the second world war raiding planes would drop showers of metal foil strips to create curtains of noise signals in the radars of their opponents - a kind of sonar splash known as a "window" 


a long set of panes - cluttered objects and drawings lying along the sill - only buildings are visible in the view - no sky - a drawing board to the left of the camera - an armchair to the right - how to get over it, the fear of falling? - he places a foot stool on the floor at camera centre - just try in small stages - a short step each time gradually higher - I look up, I look down - something higher - a tall stool - I look up, I look down - but the eye catches the pavement several floors below the window of the high-rise apartment - the camera telescopes and zooms - he falls, faints 


film is a form of kinetic time-based vision - the development of cinema parallels that of mechanised aviation - flight and film - if the plane enabled escape the camera secured it - the eye hovers in space inches from the back of my head - I look up,  I look down 


freefall relies on trust - trust in the air - a translation of falling from an experience of height to one of embrace - to be embraced is to let oneself be carried in the arms of another - the air embraces me - I do not fall, I rest, and air becomes the thing I rest upon  blue is the colour of possibility - as Hitchcock's film reiterates, vertigo is the inability to escape the ground - it is only when he looks down that he is trapped, immobilised, by his inability to leave the ground which sight compels him towards - blue is the colour of the chroma-key studio - entering the blue we can be mapped to any background, any location, any possibility - blue is the colour of groundlessness 


in Bruegel's painting the sky is gold and the sea is blue - when Icarus crashes it is the plane of possibilities which is disrupted, shattered, and Icarus swallowed - but it is better to crash oneself against the plane of possibility than remain forever trapped - even in the face of something like gravity, one can jump at least three feet in the air and even though gravity will drag us back to the earth again, it is in the moment we are three or four feet in the air that we experience true freedom  


the camera creates the vertiginous space - radar creates location - wings create the movement of flight - a parachute creates the landing, of ground after flight - and blue and my body and my body in blue - blue is where I want to be - losing location  



written by simon yuill, 2001 for I look up ... I look down

I look up ... I look down

I look up ... I look down