Emily Richardson


An inner city tower block

12 minutes
Prod/Dir: Emily Richardson
Camera: Emily Richardson
Sound Composer: Jonah Fox
Made with support from Awards For All and Arts Council England
Distributed by LUX Distribution.

Day through night Block is a portrait of a 1960’s London tower block, its interior and exterior spaces explored and revealed, patterns of activity building a rhythm and viewing experience not dissimilar from the daily observations of the security guard sat watching the flickering screens with their fixed viewpoints and missing pieces of action.

Block was made over a period of 10 months in a tower block in south east London from 2004–05. The film is a portrait of the place that came out of much time spent there. The contrast between the exterior and interior of the building, the impersonal common spaces and the personal spaces of the interior of people’s flats gives shape to the portrait.

The security guards’ office and the bank of CCTV monitors with their random editing patterns and missing pieces of action were used as a starting point in terms of the camera techniques and editing structures employed in the film. All seeing, but seeing nothing at the same time. Working with static camera the fixed shots are repeated and edited together in sequence in a similar way to the CCTV camera recordings that flick from one camera view to another, often disrupting the (visual) ‘narrative’.

The soundtrack was built up from recordings made on location at the time of shooting and sounds gathered from various sources and was composed and mixed by Jonah Fox.

Block was made for an exhibition at Cafe Gallery, London, and was shown at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. It was also part of an exhibition at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland.

2006 Rotterdam Film Festival review from The Guardian.

Just one from the enormous selection of shorts on offer at Rotterdam, this 12-minute piece by UK artist Emily Richardson examines the life of a 1960s tower block in South London. Eschewing “documentary” interviews with residents for a night-and-day time-lapse tableau of the building’s formidable architecture, it is a powerfully modulated and intensely rhythmic piece. — Matthew Tempest, Guardian Unlimited, 30 January 30, 2006.

Emily Richardson moves away from literal translations of time, sublimely masterminding a compelling visual narrative largely through a series of enigmatically composed still frame shots in her film, Block. A button below a low voltage bulb which sets the mechanical apparatus of the projector clunking, and a pause before the first 16mm frame hits the screen, adds further to this exemplary work. — Charles Danby, Artist’s Newsletter, November 2005 p.6