“The Marshes” Trilogy by A6 16

A6 16: A6 16 is a film collective made up of Josh Alexander & David Kelly-Mancaux. This trilogy documents Lea Marshes and what ensues in each facet of the landscape.​ Josh lived on the Waltham side of the marshes (now Sicily) and David on the Hackney (now Viet Nam).​

Breathe Wizard Breathe is a swirl of marsh dwellers (leafy mummers, car parks, tree spirits, pylons, goalposts) but ultimately a singular, omnipresent character. A thin veil is lifted to reveal magic. Voyeurism. Which leads to Please Don’t Leave Your Personal Longings on the Train, a lo-fi approach that follows the weirdness of everything around the marshy estate with pulsating energy and daylight. WARMING completes the trilogy. An awakening of language; the marsh is aware of us. ​

The role call:

Millfields, St. Augustine, Kingsmead Estate, Landmark Heights, Hackney Marshes, Middlesex Filter Beds, Clapton Park Estate, Lea River.

Natalia, Texas: Object Oriented Ontology is an addictive philosophy. It aims to conceptualize an un-anthropocentric society. I was first exposed to it through the writings of Timothy Morton. I have recently begun Ian Bogost’s Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to be a Thing. For Bogost, everything is an object, or in his terms, a unit. Being is a unit. A human is a unit. Cheese cloth, film stock. Units do not exist for us, but with us and each other, and for themselves. How do we try and understand units without anthropomorphizing them? It’s crazy at a time when craziness is totally necessary.

We probably can not know what it is like to be a thing. Language does not allow for it. Reductive and quantitative truths are insufficient. These philosophies point towards a dramatic restructuring. When did the Marshes cease to exist in the background for you and slide into the foreground, becoming an entity rather than a static landscape?

A: After we had finished and screened Saints on Film, which was our first A616 film collaboration on the Lea Marshes. It became apparent to us that in filming the Marshes, you don’t want to place something alien into it; it has a life of its own. We realised that it is an enveloping character that swallows everything up and expresses itself beyond the temporal.

N: These films exhibit a refreshing lack of human bodies. They seem to be on the periphery, or when they appear, they are fractured.

A: With The Marshes trilogy we really wanted to explore character without the human; it was intentional. Humans do slip into the films but, we hope, they don’t distract. The Lea Marshes are so ancient and so close to the city. The energy there is huge, all encompassing, layered. It’s not buried under concrete or dwarfed by a skyscraper: it’s full of magic. Whilst we were working on WARMING, it felt as if the Marshes were awakening from a long slumber. It felt as if all the consumed history and strange goings on had been digested and were now being regurgitated, ultimately mimicking human traits through language. Each film explores particular facets and uses different techniques, so their individual nature becomes quite important, but the absence of narrative also allows them to be independent from each other.

N: It’s easy to ask where will all of this go. How can I change my life and that of the world around me? What is the answer? What is the practical application of philosophy? These questions are too easy.

A6 16 is a film collective comprising of Josh Alexander (josh-alexander.com) & David Kelly-Mancaux (erkembode.com)A6 16’s films can be viewed online at vimeo.com/a616. They will start filming a new project in a few weeks’ time, this time in Leeds, imagining the future as a tesseract jigsaw.

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