DAISY DICKINSON INTERVIEWED
Daisy Dickinson is a London-based director/visual artist whose work involves experimental short film, music video, projected installation and live visual performance. She is one half of audio/visual collaboration ‘Adrena Adrena’ with ex-Boredom’s drummer E-da Kazuhisa and is currently working as a visual addition to 90s post-rock group Seefeel. Dickinson’s visuals have been described as ‘magmatic and sulphurous, cosmological and transcendental, drawing attention to the wonder of the earth and our sensuality on it’.
She performed as a part of Adrena Adrena here at IKLECTIK on February 15th presented by Champion Version Edition 2 alongside Thomas Stone and James Alec Hardy.
You seem to have a hand in many mediums – What’s your artistic background?
Daisy: I come from a filmmaking background originally, starting out with music videos predominantly and only really began working in live performance and installation work in the past two or three years.
Adrena Adrena is collaboration between you and ex-Boredom’s drummer E-da Kazuhisa. What’s your take on interdisciplinary collaboration? What have you learned? What is your work process as a duo developing new projects. What are you two working on now?
Daisy: I think collaboration is so vital when creating anything as it challenges you in ways you can’t challenge yourself. Music has always played a big role in my inspiration process for creating films so I guess it was just the next natural step for me to start an on-going collaboration with a musician. I love working with E-da and I think it works so well because we both really respect each other as artists and this mutual respect for one an other is crucial when creating any form of art. We don’t really have a structured way of working so to speak but instead we feed off one an others energy, always sending each other new audio or visual ideas that seem to grow into something when we jam with them in rehearsals. At the moment we are working towards a 7inch release alongside a photo book and a UK tour in May.
You’ve spoken about your use of natural visual elements. Both of your films, ‘Blue But Pale Blue’ released recently at the end of 2017, and ‘Man on the Hill’ released in 2016, incorporate the clash of natural elements with musical instruments. In ‘Blue But Pale Blue’ it’s the piano underwater, in ‘Man on the Hill’ it’s the drum kit on fire – How do these two elements function in the films/storytelling, are they in conversation with one another? What were some of the different challenges in executing each film, specifically these effects?
Daisy: Yes I spoke before, specifically about ‘Man on the Hill’, as using water and fire as catalysts for destruction. I think that these elements are both very visually intriguing, always evolving and transforming, erratic and unpredictable in their nature, its fascinating to me. But it’s the very unpredictability and force of these elements that makes them particularly challenging to work with in a film.
For ‘Man on the Hill’, it was just a crew of me and E-da and when we finished a take I would have to put down the camera and pick up the fire extinguisher while E-da ran out the way of the burning drums – the whole thing was quite mad actually. The filming process for ‘Blue but Pale Blue’ was much more structured as we had call sheets an shooting schedules, but none the less we were battling with the elements. Prior to the shoot we had removed all of the metal from inside of the piano so that we could easily manoeuvre it in and out of the water yet when it came to filming, the piano floated and we ended up having to weight it down. Me and the actor Phil really went through it, with three different underwater outdoor shoot days in March, it took us a few days to recover from that.
As a filmmaker, what roles do you fill in your films – director, producer, cinematographer, editor, etc?
Daisy: Usually most of it as I never have a big enough budget to get a huge crew involved. But when there is budget to spare I will get a DOP on board so I can focus on directing and if possible a producer too. I usually like to edit myself as I find that the most creative part.
What are some of the differences between working on a live event, with an audience in the room as you’re creating, as opposed to filmmaking, where you have many stages of production and the audience is mostly online or in a theater?
Daisy: Yes I only really realized the difference after my first live visual performance. With a film there is a huge build up and so much preparation – contemplating, adjusting, analysing and then it always feels like a bit of an anti-climax when the film is eventually released. Live on the other hand is a totally different thing as so many things can go wrong, especially when improvising. I feel this gradual tension building throughout the day that ends in a climatic hit of adrenaline when the performance begins, I love it!
Much of your work features the use of microscopes. Can you explain what instruments you’re using, how you came to decide on their particular use, and how they work?
Daisy: I like to use a mircoscope, underwater camera, pinhole lens, my DSLR or sometimes just an iPhone. But I guess at the end of the day these are all just tools, this world is full of beautiful abstractions and I’m always looking for new ways to capture these and process them in a way that can be shared with others.
With Adrena Adrena you do live projection onto a large spherical balloon. Can you tell us more about where the idea to use this as a projection screen came from and how it works?
Daisy: We wanted to create the illusion of a giant nebulous orb suspended above E-da’s drum kit – an alien life force. It’s quite transcendental when the audience is gathered around it, like a strange ritual or something.
What are you working on now?
Daisy: Alongside Adrena Adrena, I’m working on a new collaboration with a techno artist, Samuel Kerridge, which will start touring early next year. I also want to make another short film this year and have a few scripts which will hopefully materialize into something.
If you pulled out your phone or computer right now what would be the last song played?
Daisy: Brian Eno & John Cale – Spinning Away.
What is the last thing you read/watched that shook you up and offered new creative fodder?
Daisy: I’ve been reading loads of the Herman Hesse books recently and each one I finish seems to slightly alter my view of this world.
Do you care to weigh in on the discussion surrounding work place discrimination and unequal gender representation both in front of and behind the camera so to speak – in technology, music, and the arts ?
Daisy: On my first day of film school our tutor said to us “I need to let you know that your about to enter into one of the most sexist industries.” I took this quite light-heartedly at the time, despite being one of about five women in a class of fourty-odd men. But the more time I spent working in film, the more I realized how much this statement was a reality. People have this deluded idea that cameramen need to be strong and male – even the word ‘cameramen’ suggests this. Its really sad actually as I think there are so many talented female camera operators out there who just aren’t being given the chance. You’d be surprised to know that I’m naturally blonde, but it didn’t take me long to realize that a young blonde girl was going to have a hard time being taken seriously in such a male-dominated industry.
Interview and Photograph by Laura Hilliard.