Radio Carbon by Tim Cumming

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Tim Cumming is a major British poet-filmmaker whose work I’ve just recently learned about. Radio Carbon was especially interesting to me since I’ve been watching a lot of archaeological documentaries in which radiocarbon dating features heavily. Here’s the description from Vimeo:

When cosmic rays strike the atmosphere they create the radioactive isotope carbon 14, which can be detected in living matter and decays at a fixed rate over many millennia. Radiocarbon dating is the method by which we measure prehistoric time, and with which our own detritus will one day be measured.
The filmpoem Radio Carbon takes this transient yet permanent record of time as a personal metaphor, fashioning a hypnotic journey into the human past, from the neolithic to the present moment.
It’s a film with eternity at its centre, the vastness of space at its core, and a reverie of images clustering to the lens like the flashing in a stranger’s eye.

This is in 24 numbered sections, and may be viewed as a sequence of separate, interlocking filmpoems with recurring motifs. Cummings shot the film’s 8mm footage in addition to doing all the editing — a major undertaking for a film of this length. His profile at Salt Publications says that Radio Carbon “was premiered at the Renoir cinema in 2009 and at Port Eliot Festival in 2010.”

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