Pete Karkut - Toads mouth

8:44, 2011, Video Art
Toads Mouth was filmed in the garden of a local cafe at the time of the riots in London this August.
It became my reaction to these riots. The garden has a very English suburban atmosphere that is highlighted by a soundtrack that uses a [(Hurdy Gurdy)], an instrument common at the time of the peasants’ revolt that happened in London in 1381. The calm of a suburban cafe garden is broken by gunshots creating an air of menace. At the time of the riots I was most surprised by how fragile the rule of law in London was, and how completely it vanished. In my film we never see anyone and only hear the guns. Yet in the mind of the viewer the garden becomes a war zone as the audio narrative evolves. The invisible customers at the cafe receive their coffee and cake and carry on as if everything were normal. The government had a similar reaction to the riots, dismissing them as simple acts of criminal behaviour and overseeing a return to normality without publicly offering a viable set of reasons behind the breakdown of law. The soundtrack decays into chaos and fades into the peace of the garden only to be disrupted by a machine gun battle. On a personal level the garden represents the mental peace of mind I had thought invulnerable before being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. A place of suburban calm full of transient blooms. A suburbia never far from the fertilizing effect of multiple cultures. The Eastern influences woven into the music portray this aspect of the city, as well as my keen interest and participation in the meditational wisdom of Eastern culture. Practices that have made my M.S. easier to deal with.
DirectorPete KarkutCameraPete KarkutEditorPete KarkutCrewNicola Davidson Vocalist.

CountryUnited KingdomEdition2011

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Who is Pete Karkut?
Musician and composer of moving images.

What is Toads mouth about?
It is aiming to document the atmosphere I felt around me during the August Riots of 2011 in London.

How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?
I started as an animator in the early 90’s using Amiga computers and simple 2D software. I have always worked in Art Education and eventually studied Art Theory to M.A. Level.

Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?
Each image has a sound, each location an atmosphere. I try to create a terrifying beauty that reveals a hidden side to the environment. I aim to be open to radical changes of plan mid-project. I like to move from a position of not knowing what a project is about when starting. This follows through to a midway stage where I think I know exactly what the film is about. The final stage sees this concept reinterpreted and often a concurrent meaning unearthed. Personal honesty to the discovered subject matter is of great importance. I hope that my influences are numerous enough for my style to be truly my own.

How long do you usually work on one project?
In retrospect I have noticed that 3 minutes takes about 6 weeks and 5-10 minutes about 2 to 3 months. I find that each film has a momentum that is set in motion by the initial idea and inspiration. When this is exhausted that is reason to call it finished.

Do you carefully plan the production process or do you work more intuitive?
I usually plan the choice of location I shoot at but not what I shoot when I’m there. This leaves me open to respond to the environment around me.

How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?
For me the title needs to add something that is missing from the sound and images used. My titles are often obvious and rarely need me to wade through a sea of choices.

Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
Nature and whoever is shouting loudest.

How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?
Sound was my first medium and I am grateful for what it has taught me about film. I always write the music I use in my films, this extends to the majority of the sounds I use as well.

How does content relate to the form of your work?
I enjoy fusing a seemingly disconnected set of images by means of a soundtrack based narrative that creates an atmosphere to the film. This ambience is created from the emotions I feel as a response to the subject that has become the centre of the film I am making.

What possibilities of the web are yet to be explored?
I look forward to a time when the web is truly worldwide. No country should be subject to internet censorship. We need to experience the true diversity of opinion on this planet. It could be a means to reverse the tide of mono-culture that impoverishes our cities.

Did the web changed your view on art, or your career?
The web has had a minimal effect on my view on art. My opinions about the art I see were more influenced by cinema and television as I belong to a generation that was brought up before the internet existed. My career in Art education started just as the internet was becoming popular, so has never been dependant on it. I do appreciate that the internet has massively increased the number of short films I get to see. However my opinions on what is good in art or film is independent of the means of its distribution.

Where would you place your work; cinema or art. And what is the difference between those according to you?
The films I make are very low budget and completely self financed so in many ways do not belong to the world of cinema and its big budget, big cast productions. This means my projects are completely uninfluenced by a producer or financier. This puts me closer to the art category, but I like the fact that a cinema audience will usually sit and watch the whole film. An art gallery audience is free to wander, and is less likely to view a film linearly. The visual material in my films is usually non-linear, but a narrative is present and is easier to appreciate when viewed in a linear fashion. At present I see my work moving closer to a cinematic perspective.

How influential is the reaction to your film by the audience?
I would like to think that the audience reaction has little effect on my creative process. However I think it unwise to be unresponsive to criticism. Constructive criticism deserves to be given a response that is not tangled with the emotions. My practice is very solitary and I am usually pleasantly surprised when other peoples’ reactions show me that my communication has achieved the goals I have set for it. My dialogue with the audience via my film serves many purposes. One of the most important ones for me is to give me a sense of social identity that lies outside of the one given to us by the Nation State we belong to. I hope that my communication with my audience can give both parties a new and unthought of reaction to the subject matter I tackle in my films.

What is your next project about?
My next project is about the unreality of the type of perfection portrayed in the world of T.V. Advertising. It is part of my series ’Close to Home’. I am working on it concurrently with another project that shows the decay of coal fired power generation in the U.K. A very bleak and suitable topic for the English winter.

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