Rachel Cattle and Steve Richards talking to Alli Sharma at Transition Gallery on 14 January 2010
SR: Cosmographia is a continuation of work we’ve been making using the cut up idea to connect diverse sources.
RC: The zine acts as its own thing but also relates to the film and is to do with a combination of pop culture, film, music, philosophical and psychological issues and making connections. We collect quotes, song lyrics, bits that we’ve written ourselves and shove them all together.
SR: We border on the slightly humorous if possible even though it looks kind of pretentious.
RC: The slogans remind me of those men walking around with placards pronouncing ‘The End is Nigh’.
AS: Some of your slogans are related to time, time being a circle for instance.
RC: A lot of the ideas come from the film we made at the same time, which was influenced by The Shining. Basically, it is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen. It’s terrifying. There are lots of ideas to do with journeying, which initially got us thinking. The drive through summer and into winter gives a sense of the seasons going round. As the story emerges you find that the protagonist has always existed. He’s basically trapped in this event going round and round.
SR: Generally it’s about patterns and looking at how time is like a pattern. There are patterns throughout the movie.
RC: There’s this carpet pattern in the corridor shots, which is scary but brilliant and 70s and mad sci-fi, fantastic bright orange and black.
SR: Kubrick seems obsessed with visual detail.
RC: He gives lots of visual clues in the film by using pattern so we were aware that he had those notions already but we just wanted to make something that tripped off that and went off into our own. Our film is quite organic. The ideas we had at the beginning change as we make stuff and play around with filming. Something else occurs.
AS: The music to your film sounds operatic.
RC: We tend to use pop music in our films and wanted to try something different to give an otherworldly air.
SR: It added intensity too. It has narrative movement and swooping that suited the imagery we were using and that melodic pattern.
AS: The film has a hypnotic quality and the music takes you along. There is a dramatic theatrical quality too.
RC: I like the cheek of taking something as dramatic as opera music and putting it with bits of old cardboard and pencil drawings and seeing if you can make that work without it seeming ridiculous. The two things feed each other.
AS: Is that drawing of a lightening flash from David Bowie’s face?
RC: I was obsessed with David Bowie as a teenager and that whole thing about him wearing all his costumes were ridiculously patterned and amazingly designed.
SR: We started talking about how we’re trapped by these myriad images, which influence your life without us realising it. Not just from pop stars but these governing patterns and our psychological patterns that we endlessly repeat and I suppose that links back to The Shining.
RC: I was doing some teaching at the British Museum and became aware that every culture and society is obsessed by pattern and design, whether we use it in carpets and furnishing or whether its used symbolically and has been really important to human psychology.
AS: Some of the drawings in the book could be endless kinds of objects, the string for instance.
RC: I’m quite interested in things that appear in folk tales and the string is a little thing that could rescue you from a maze. I like that magical quality. That idea appears in the film where we’re holding this precious object, which is in fact a piece of cardboard, but it could be something magical.
SR: Theseus escapes the labyrinth in the Minotaur story using string too.
AS: You leave traces of rubbed out pencil visible in the text.
RC: I like that the process is part of the piece. That ties into the film in the way it’s shot is made transparent and comes from a similar process.
SR: We’re not trying to be slick or polishing it up.
AS: Drawing the text by hand gives it some sort of extra value. It seems so unnecessary.
SR: I agree, for me it gives warmth.
RC: I like those everyday hand written signs that you come across. But also it’s that idea that you’ve got so much of an obsession that you sit down and bother to draw out text instead of just printing it out on a computer. It’s like I really care about this. Obviously its also tongue in cheek because the slogans are big, important ideas, in capital letters.
SR: It’s important to me and to both of us that even though they might seem a bit grandiose there is an emotional communication there, which is a happy one in the end. I suppose the film might seem dark but hopefully at the end you get a positive emotion.
RC: Yeah, hopefully you get the humour of it.
SR: That’s important.