Duncan Speakman is a sound artist from the United Kingdom who explores issues of “memory, geography, and fragility.” His works include installations, online activities, performances, sound walks, and video projections.
In Berlin in 2003, he launched 1,441 paper airplanes against international conflict in Peace Not Profit. In 2005, he was commissioned to design a courtyard for the Henbury School in Bristol, England that can be used as a performance space and a recreational space.
Another of his projects is 29fragiledays – a vlog containing a collection of his short documentaries that capture the simple beauty in small, fragile moments. Although in August of 2006 Duncan brought the site’s production to a halt, he still continues to produce other artistic projects and has left 29fragiledays up for all to enjoy.
The video blog contains over thirty different short pieces – rarely longer than 30 seconds – edited with simplicityand mostly filmed in the United Kingdom and Berlin with a digital still photography camera. The films are fairly high quality – especially when you take into account that they are not shot with a video camera – and exhibit a wide range of subjects.
In Friends, a woman helps a young girl onto the back of a mule. You Must Remember This… shows a couple approaching a kiss, intercut with other images that divulge the circumstances in which that kiss takes place. Shelter illustrates the safe haven an umbrella provides from the rain.
These succinct films portray slivers of life in fragile moments that will never happen in quite the same way again. The documentaries are not dramatically hard-hitting, life-changing or grandiose, but then again, they do not try to be. Like the films of Lynne Ramsay, they illuminate profoundness in the everyday and capture the delicate simplicities in life without forcing them.
My favorite piece is Shelter, with two people uniting underneath a bright umbrella in the rain. It has an emotional impact that many filmmakers strive for, but fail to achieve. Speakman successfully manages to keep it short, fresh, and intriguing, without a dull moment.
Shelter works as a great example of how Duncan Speakman sees and articulates subtle beauty through the lens of his digital camera that most people completely miss.