The Falconer on Vimeo

The Falconer, technically, was an advance on The Cardinal and the Corpse. This time there was no industry crew. The shoot was very much free form, going off wherever the story took us, fuelled on cultural appropriation (in the best sense) and creative paranoia. It was always intended as part of a wider project known as ‘The Perimeter Fence’, a recalibration of lives and productions lost in the margins. An alternative (and electively unreliable) series of histories, rewritten and subverted to aim at a higher truth. The progress of the film was scored by a complex network of (provoked) creative tensions: between the ostensible director Chris Petit, for example, and the former director (and self-proclaimed shaman, conman, story-teller, falconer) Peter Whitehead, between the scrupulous editor Emma Matthews and the artist/animator Dave McKean (whose brilliant inserts and interventions were microfilms on their own). As the production evolved, it was taken over by the presence of Whitehead, who always held out one more story to tell, one more startling revelation. Revelations backed up by a buried archive of feature films, documentaries and home-movie footage.
Channel 4, back in the day, responded positively. The Falconer was singled out as a new way of working: distressed and ‘painterly’ textures, hints at conspiracies, basic equipment, no crew to eat up budget. The consequence was more commissions to operate in this way – but not for us, for younger, less bothersome and cheaper hopefuls.
Dr Michael Hrebeniak said: ‘The Falconer is probably the most talked about film ever made among the psychogeography crowd… Maybe we should keep it a secret?’
Not any more.

London Orbital posted on Vimeo.

In many ways this was the easiest ‘sell’ of the group. The book of the same title, written in parallel with the film, could be described in a single sentence: ‘A walk around London’s orbital motorway.’ London Orbital was the only one released (by Illuminations) as a DVD. It offered itself to academic usage and it fitted quite comfortably within the emerging discipline (or brand) of psychography. The narrative was about endless, the slow-cinema of pedestrianism, noticing everything, and the reverie and drift of driving without stopping.  The only exits being into 19th-century fantasy and horror.  The two Thames crossings, east and west, had their pull: Bram Stoker in Purfleet and JG Ballard in Shepperton. The DVD as a package had several advantages, as Chris Petit pointed out. One of the extra features covered the A13 exhibition at the Wapping Pumping Station – and exhibits that linked exploration of the Thames Estuary, its container dumps and landfill, with my great-grandfather’s surveys of an Amazonian tributary. It’s obvious now that my recent book, The Gold Machine, was germinating, like everything else, around the fringes of London. As I state in the book: “The jungle begins in London.”

Farne Sinclair’s podcast “In Tropical Lands”

Farne Sinclair, Iain’s daughter, has started a podcast titled “In Tropical Lands”. In her own words:

I have always been haunted by my great great grandfather Arthur Sinclair. These podcasts are the story of a journey to the Peruvian Amazon with my father, retracing Arthur’s steps and his expedition of 1891. This journey inspired Iain Sinclair’s book, “The Gold Machine” and Grant Gee’s film of the same name. These are the conversations we had along the way, with each other and those we met, as we discovered the forgotten legacy of the British Peruvian Corporation, and heard first hand from the Asheninka tribes who live there still.


Link to the podcast:

Zoom talk for the Blake Society on Wednesday 15 September 2021 at 20.00

Blake’s Mental Traveller and The Gold Machine.
An improvised talk about how a Blake poem, retrieved from his notebooks, fair-copied and preserved in the ‘Pickering Manuscript’, became the road map and model for a lifetime of journeys and pilgrimage quests. ‘The Mental Traveller’, first encountered as a schoolboy, was an awakening, a mesmerising rhythmic cycle to be experienced but not yet understood. The poem returned at various points in the years that followed. Until it was acknowledged as the secret code for The Gold Machine, a late-life expedition to one of the sources of the Amazon, undertaken in company with my daughter, and in the footsteps of my great-grandfather, who published an account of his adventure in 1895.

The World’s End – walking with Iain Sinclair in Tilbury – by John Rogers

John Rogers has posted one of his filmic rambles, in which we struck out from Tilbury, in the direction of Stanford-le-Hope (once the home of Joseph Conrad). We discussed the germination of The Gold Machine and the start of my London adventures, from the same spot, many years ago, with Downriver. John works wonders in finessing a random walk into a form of topographic coherence in just seven days (in whatever time he manages to salvage from the day job).