Stereo sound work with single screen video, 4 mins, 2017.
A reworking of an Edwardian variety song about a worker’s grave that has to be moved so that new drains can be laid for a rich gent’s new residence. The worker, the song goes, will haunt the toilet of the city chap in revenge ‘and only let him go’ when the worker allows him. The video uses found drain-inspection footage that could almost be depicting the journey of the worker’s lost, wretched soul back up to the surface of the world for his frightening, riotous vengeance. The work appears on the Paul Rooney album Futile Exorcise on Owd Scrat Records.
Still at Large (The Creeping Things Cut) written and presented by Nicholas Still
Single screen video with six channel sound, full version 11 mins, 2015-2018.
This 2015 video was initially a film essay about Holy Island, northern England, presented by architecture writer Nicholas Still and directed by Paul Rooney. But the film was re-edited in 2018 by The Creeping Things (aka Lola DeWitt-Still of Berwick-upon-Tweed and Berlin), who made her own (unsolicited) version with her soundtrack, New Theme to Still at Large, imposed on top of it. Over DeWitt-Still’s relentless motorik beat and analogue synths, the female voice on the new soundtrack (which DeWitt-Still claims is a ‘found’ vocal recording) speaks of a disturbing male figure on the run from an unspoken crime, who is, in turn, on the hunt for something or someone. Is he aiming his threatening intent towards Nicholas Still himself? Commissioned by Berwick Visual Arts for Berwick Film Media & Arts Festival. Thanks to Lola DeWitt-Still, Richard Stephenson Winter and Melanie Dagg. The Creeping Things’ New Theme to Still at Large is released as a single on Owd Scrat Records.
Chris Sharratt (A-N website), 30/9/2015 review of the work.
“…a short, beautiful and disturbing film…” David Whetstone (The Journal). 26/9/2015.
Single screen video with stereo sound, 25 mins, 2008.
In a dark, apparently derelict Liverpool cinema, Tony (played by Tony Schumacher), an amateur comedian and gumshoe detective, chats with other comics in the ticket queue and the bar. He talks of his recent visits to his past life regression therapist, and tells some of the jokes he has written about it. At various points the other male and female comics in the cinema relay messages to Tony from an unknown and unseen man who is trying to contact him. There is clearly something unpleasant that Tony has stumbled on at some time in his past, something that he is impelled to uncover further, despite the risks. Will Tony’s past catch up with him before he does? Commissioned by Tate Liverpool.
Purchased in 2012 by the Victoria Gallery and Museum with funds from The Contemporary Art Society.
Alex Hetherington (A-N website), 4/2/2009 review of the work.
Tony Schumacher‘s memories of filming the work.
Lost High Street
Stereo sound work with single screen VHS video, 11 mins, 2008-2017.
Post-punk spoken word paranoia soundtracks a VHS tourist video. The tourist is on an open-top bus tour around Edinburgh, pointing out the sights, unsure of his own past life, mixing what he thinks are his own memories with misheard fragments of the tour guide’s spiel. The narrative eventually takes a bleak turn as it is revealed that the tourist could be stuck forever on a tour that never stops, an endless series of circuits around a city that may be the capital of a disturbing foreign empire in the grip of cold-war paranoia. The tourist fears he may be dead, killed by the empire’s security forces because of an act of espionage he has unwittingly committed. This means, he thinks (though he is never sure of any of this), that he is now condemned to repeat his final act, the filming of a bus-top tourist video, in a blossom filled, sun-drenched city, forever. Commissioned by Collective Gallery. The work appears on the Paul Rooney album Futile Exorcise on Owd Scrat Records.
Neil Cooper (MAP magazine #15), Sept. 2008 review of the work.
James Clegg (Art Review magazine), Sept. 2008 review of the work.
“…Lost High Street consists of the rather wayward observations and autobiographical musings of a loner sitting at the back of an open-top bus as it tours Edinburgh. Rooney empathises and charms us into feeling the subjectivity of his protagonists. Who else but him could achieve such deep pathos with such down-to-earth subjects, methods and materials?” Robert Clark (The Guardian). 14/6/2008.
La Décision Doypack
Stereo sound work with single screen 16mm film (also text only version), 27 mins, 2008.
The work is inspired by a real web memoir by a retired Australian food-packaging company manager, Mackenzie J. Gregory, who remembers walking the night-time streets of Paris during the turbulent events of May 1968. The dominant monologue of the work (spoken by John Eastman) — which is accompanied by rock music, sound effects and 16mm film images of drama students awkwardly ‘acting out’ the narrative — extends Gregory’s memoir into fiction, playing with contradictory writing styles, from consumer product description to romantic poetry. It is partly because of this connection with real life and real events that the work’s imaginative confabulation and formal artifice is thrown into relief, underlining the melancholy comedy of our attempts to do justice to the past. Commissioned by Radar and Matt’s Gallery.
Skye Sherwin (The Guardian), 13/2/2009 preview of the work.
“The success of this piece is underscored by Rooney’s ability to maintain an analytical perspective as maker, for he appears to flirt with but never actually fall for the charms of his chosen media.” Rebecca Geldard (Time Out magazine). 12/5/2008.