2005 16mm film

Block is a round-the-clock portrait, shot over a duration of ten months, of a 1960s tower block in south east London. The film is a portrait that developed out of this long duration spent there. Patterns of activity around the block build a rhythm and viewing experience not dissimilar to the daily observations of the security guard who watches the flickering screens with their fixed viewpoints and missing pieces of action. Access granted to Richardson's camera, which creates a contrast between the exterior and interior of the building, the impersonal common spaces and the personal spaces of the interior of people’s homes, gives shape to the portrait.

It was the security guards’ office and the bank of CCTV monitors with their random editing patterns and missing pieces of action that provided a starting point for 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 a group exhibition, REAP at Cafe Gallery, London, and was shown at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. It was also part of Theatrum Mundi: Performance Architecture, a group exhibition at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland.


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”

Block, 16mm, 12 minutes, 2005
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.