Dalila Hamdoun

Diary of a Digital Artist, June 2004

I am a 34-year-old French-Algerian woman. I arrived in the UK 10 years ago to study English. I graduated at the University of Plymouth in 2003 with a BA in Media Arts (film, video and photography). I am obviously flattered to have been chosen as one of the black digital artists to be commissioned by Kuumba and The Watershed in Bristol. I am looking forward to meeting the other two artists, a painter and a writer, who also have been selected to produce a work of art using digital technology in their own practice. I am a filmmaker (Victoria, 2001). It will be interesting to see how digital technology is to contribute to the making of our individual projects and disciplines.

Although I do not start my work with an agenda, I tend to be political. I reckon we need stories and images, if only our own, to make sense of and hold onto our freedom. Meanwhile the purpose of this diary is to document and reflect on this residency in all manners and forms (i.e. visually, ethically, collaboratively, etc.). Besides, I need to get some intellectual pleasure out of my work. Theory and practice feed from one another while experimentation and final work are not always distinguishable.

Filmmakers and video artists are quickly reminded in their practice that the grammar of film is rich but the complexity of the human soul is even richer. Most of us are familiar with the language of film; this is why artists often battle with the medium in order to cast a new light on the issue at hand. Digital technology has been praised by manufacturers and practitioners alike for its wide access to the public and good value, but like the still camera its use is mostly confined to personal diaries and mementos. In the hands of the few, video is also a tool for surveillance. The presence of CCTV in the high street adds to the furtive look of the passer-by, the sudden recognition of an acquaintance, the welcoming face of a friend at a rendezvous. One needs not to be close or intimate to participate in one’s individual sense of worth and decency. Paradoxically, the ubiquity of images has made the look a rare occurrence for the exercise of looking is so intrinsic and open to the world.

Although its production values are generally lower than film, digital video retains the same preoccupations with sound, cinematography and editing. With interactive media, many of the components that were once integral to the work, form instead a menu to enhance our viewing experience. I intend to make 6 portraits touching on contemporary issues. This series of mine will combine distinct layers of words, images and sounds of what is essentially a mosaic of people.

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