Retroflex: Tape 1

Dartmoor Gypsy - Whilst the Retroflex project structures itself around the nature of reshaped memory and its eventual disintegration, Dartmoor Gypsy is very much the building crescendo to an otherwise dreamlike trance. The track aims to evoke a feeling of dread within the audience, caught in a hypnotic rhythm that is sinister yet encapsulating.

Skyline - Initially, this was a simple piece constructed from varying pans of drone, however its tight structure was cemented by a non-sample beat giving the track a more artificial sound. The regimented aesthetic of the track was part inspired by CCTV cameras and brings to point the amount of times we are filmed daily.

Cutlass - As the spiral of collaged samples unwinds slowly, Its momentum is increased through a simple harmonium sample and gyroscopic rhythm, once again suggesting continual movement and rotations. Its attempts to instil dread are accomplished by its relentless hypnotic visuals, broken with the sinister contrast of 'pirate' samples and mechanical dragons. Cutlass is very much a clockwork piece.

For Retroflex, the influence was a fused development between consciously gathered and identifiable childhood influences, to the archives of memory that reside in both the subconscious and – to a physical end – home video. In the process of creating, these stored memories leap back for recognition, and in some cases, demand attention to its sedative manner. This project is built on the foundations of the psychology behind stored memory and the freedom it continually allows the artist to divulge in, particularly if it’s reliant on ones own childhood nostalgia.

The nature of nostalgia is both troubling and enlightening. Uninvited but rarely shunned, the fleeting nature of nostalgic memories can often provide confirmation and insight into the soul, however they can additionally prove a disturbance to the ‘present self’ when suddenly there is no recollection. Is nostalgia necessarily a healthy psychological function or does the act of documenting memory only allow us to regress into a dream at will?

Our Dad would often document holidays, days out and general family life through a 8mm videotape camera, capturing singular memories with prosper and intrigue. The videotape allowed a sense of freedom; easily reusable and re-watchable to the point where the structure of the tapes would often seem far more sporadic than the delicate consistency of working with film. Naturally however, with videotape there is the element of sound which odes itself to this new dimension of nostalgia. Suddenly an image becomes a landscape and the recollections of the location can be far more realized. It is through this viewing of the innocent former self that maintains a sense of intrigue, yet additionally moments of disturbance. With the convenience VHS and home video camcorders, archiving memory is instant, much like the ability to instantly re-watch footage on a television. In the initial stages of Retroflex, the off-camera moments that were not documented but remembered often seem to be those of re-watching the tapes as a child. The various images and sounds which, as a child, one would find sinister. This element of childhood fear is now gone, however it once resided in these images and I would actively seek it amongst the disjointed cuts and edits that stumble through the tapes.

Through pulping the original artifacts, all structural context is lost. With a recognisable VHS aesthetic, the fear of the unknown is once again restored within the footage. The soundtrack a beckoning spiral of collaged samples with a sense of the impending and the hypnotic.

This body of work has been a collaboration with my brother Ollie Clixby, who spent numerous hours collating and remoulding the soundtrack to Retroflex. Every sound, loop and track that can be heard has been taken directly from the source, making the whole installation 100% produced from the memories held on film.

  • Role Editor, Designer, Art Director

  • For Uni/Personal Collaboration

  • Type Video/Sound Editing, Art Installation, Concept Design

Up Next:

Wall of Deathray