Stef Will

Stef Will

• 25 March 2022

Flame gazing

Following up from my February post about our exhibition in Jane Austen House, I would like to speak a little more about my film and offer some suggestions on how to view it. But before I start, I will leave you to go back and read the first post to find out how this project came about.

‘Vanishing Traces’ is a 40-minute film that explores not only the energetic traces we leave behind wherever we go, as discussed previously, but also a warping of time and space –a collapse of the space-time continuum if you will– as it investigates the merging of energy left by the Austen women more than two hundred years ago, with the energy of contemporary women, like myself, visiting the house.

‘Vanishing Traces’ is a slow, hypnotic film, contemplating the relationship between matter and energy, particle and wave, considering wave–particle duality and thus questioning the very nature of reality.

I would like the viewer to take their time and really slow down when viewing the work, kind of like a 40-minute long mediation. Maybe a modern-day equivalent of the ancient candle flame gazing meditation, Trataka, slowing and containing our wandering mind, while focusing on this digital ‘flame’, reaching a state of deepened awareness, about our self, our body, but also the energy field that surrounds our body three feet in each direction, like a giant beach ball.

And as you gaze at the digital flame and slow your breath, the room around you will slowly fade away, until your only awareness is the flame.

You will also notice that over time, as my scarf slowly dissipates its energy into the room, the room in relation becomes warmer, visible via a gradual change of colours, offered to the naked gaze of the human eye by the thermal lens.

This visible change in colour and form may remind us about the first law of thermodynamics, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only altered in form, which seems to contradict the title of the work.

At some point, the film changes into a 2-channel view, referencing the unseen connection between myself and Jane, but in extension between everybody entering the house, both past and present. With the left channel playing forward and the right in reverse, the viewer may wait for that moment, when both reach an equilibrium, only to find that this moment is fleeting and the film continues past this point without so much as a heartbeat’s pause, alluding to the ephemeral cycle of life.

I will leave you with this and invite you to do some (digital…) flame gazing…