In a series of interlocking episodes, Dryden Goodwin’s 28-minute film explores the physical and emotional dynamics of a group of young female divers. Portraying the girls on their own, interacting with each other, and under the rapt, imploring gaze of their coaches, Goodwin’s camera combines extreme close-up with oblique, atmospheric detail to illuminate their intensity of focus and their idealisation of grace and ’flow’. Looking beyond the arc of the dive itself to consider its metaphorical, even metaphysical resonance as a rite of passage between different states, Goodwin’s taut, pinpoint imagery and vibrant, serpentine soundtrack lend the divers’ devotion and zen-like composure an ethereal, otherworldly quality that makes each sudden plummet into darkness even more poetic and poignant. In this, the title, ’Poised’, has multiple meanings – evoking the space between practicing and perfecting a new dive, between stillness and movement, absorption and play; between being utterly ’in the moment’ and on the brink of imminent, inescapable change.
Made with the generous cooperation of Crystal Palace Diving Club
Commissioned and Curated by Film and Video Umbrella and De La Warr Pavilion, Funded by The Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England.
Camera, Editing, Music and Sound: Dryden Goodwin
Research developed with Elsa Bradley, Msc.
Production and Shooting Assistant: Imran Perretta
Editing Assistant: Jo Cole
With special thanks to: Chris Snode, Steven Bode, Caroline Smith, Karen Murrey, Mike Jones, Jane Won, Maya Piotrowska
text by Dryden Goodwin
Through the 28-minute film and soundtrack I wanted to explore the extraordinary physical and emotional dynamics found within the training process of these elite divers. I became aware of how the way I captured their activities on camera, could both reveal nuances of diving itself, but also have a suggestive power to resonate beyond diving, becoming metaphoric of other states and transitions, suggesting other aspects of being alive. The divers demonstrate an incredible devotion which seems to suggests an expressive desire to transcend physical limitations. I wanted to capture details both from the lead-up and the aftermath of the divers’ training, highlighting short-lived movements and small-scale gestures, to draw out the lingering poetic charge in their dedicated practice.
With the film’s soundtrack I tread a line between minimalism and overt rich orchestration; mirroring the heightened physical and mental state of the divers. I combine and abstract wild sounds recorded in the pool and training areas, with passages of multi-layered orchestration I’ve composed in my studio and also stretches of complete silence. With the choice of how the sounds synchronize with the images I wanted to construct and accentuate the oppositions in the film, for example, the almost animalistic or alien vitality of the divers spasms of energy leading into moments of their fragility and youthful hope. With each dive they attempt, they place their body’s in a perilous and elemental relationship to air, water, and architecture, the combination of sound and image at times emphasizes their earthliness and at other points their almost etherial qualities.
I felt clear from the start of the filming and sound recording that I didn’t want to simply film dives in their final complete state or reveal the whole of the architecture of the building. I’m interested in the potential of constructing imaginative spaces, both with the physical space, but also with the implied emotional space between the trainers and divers as well as between the cohort of divers. My approach to the film and soundtrack mirrored both the fragmentary process of dissecting the component parts of a dive, as well as the building up of the divers’ physique, slowly taking shape over weeks and months in the often brutal, repetitious training process. I chose therefore to combine extreme close-up with oblique details of the divers’ limbs, faces, feet and facial features, framing to decontextualize them.
There is something powerful about holding a shot framed tightly on the illuminated head and shoulders of a diver, set against the defocused shadows of the background; seeing their anticipation, then jumping out of the frame, as they leap into a void. I wanted to illuminate their intensity of focus and moments of idealized grace. I’m interested in the evocative power of using different lenses and collecting images from different distances, Poised combines extreme macro close-ups with images caught with telephoto lenses from afar.
The divers are constantly working under the gaze of their coaches, who respond from the poolside, they have this incredibly persuasive linguistic and gestural shorthand in their voice, hands and face. They are so finely attuned to the strengths and weaknesses of these divers; their potential champions. It was fascinating to observe and record them refining the speed, shape and motivation of each sculptural physical act, coaxing the divers to pursue a pinpoint display of composure under pressure. Despite their moments of banter and frivolous snatches of social time at the poolside, the divers were unwaveringly attentive to the instruction they were under from these masters of perfection, an extraordinary relationship to observe and attempt to decode.
Poised, was intended to evoke the space between practicing and perfecting a new dive, between their rhythm of stillness and movement, absorption and play; between being utterly ‘in the moment’ and on the brink of change.
Video on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/user5471101/videos
Breathe Documentation: https://vimeo.com/51616336
Poised Trailer: http://vimeo.com/44281907
The Telegraph interview: http://www.drydengoodwin.com/reviews/telegraph_aug_11.htm
Forthcoming projects include a 5 month solo exhibition at the Queen’s House, National Maritime Museum, opening in 2015, showing Dryden’s newly commissioned first long form film and related drawings, funded by The Wellcome Trust, Royal Museums Greenwich and Arts Council England, co-produced with Redbee Media.
A further new film, Skill, commissioned to launch East Durham Creates in Autumn 2014, an Arts Council England Creative People and Places project, produced by Forma.
And a permanent new art work, Wander, consisting of 100 etched steel plates inset in the pavement, each featuring a portrait, installed Autumn 2014 in Cambridge’s new travel interchange part of the development CB1.
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