As I said, my parents gave me the technology for my project. My mother, god bless her, believes in my artistic soul and my attempts to reach my “potential”. She sees me as this little flower, worthy of praise, attention and endless support. My father is less convinced, but less interested. All he cares about is money, which he spends all his time making, and who am I to disrespect that – or to turn down any of the financial aid he gives me, possibly out of guilt at his “emotional absence” (as mother calls it), or maybe just because he can (which I suspect is more the case)?
“I just know you’ll do wonderfully,” my mother once said, touching my cheek fondly, her eyes brimming with lovely, naïve tears, “You always were such an artistic child.”
“It would be nice if you did financially “wonderfully” actually” my father averred, looking up from his laptop where doubtless endless rows of profit figures scrolled down the screen, “Do try to do something successful like that in your life before I die, if you can..”
“Of course mother” I said.
“Of course father,” I repeated. And both seemed satisfied, at least with me, if not with each other.
George paid for the changes to the architecture to house the cameras and recording devices for my project and even gave me a little “viewing room”, which no doubt was really there so George could sometimes go and watch it all himself.
I love how the generosity of others is sometimes so singularly and selfishly motivated. It makes me think most things in life are brilliantly layered, and never what they purport to be initially. It’s why I was so interested in pursuing this project – the real actions of others, without the artifice of knowing they are being watched, and without the confusion of what they are saying. I wanted to capture something immediate and visceral and true.
The beast uncovered. Well, I certainly uncovered a beast of sorts.
How little I realized at the beginning of how literal my analogies would prove to be.
So others paid for the set up. I loved that. It’s part of being the guy with the ideas. You usually don’t pay for them yourself. But the USBs and portable hard drives to be used and any other sundry production costs fell to me, thus my disquiet at the ending of my artistically challenged but financially rewarding stint at the home shopping channel. The truth of the matter was that I’d been filming The Inferno for a couple of months by the time Roger let the axe fall, and while there were patterns emerging in the mating and dating rituals on my film, there was nothing really new or interesting in it at all.
To be honest, I never really thought it through that much – I just thought if I got the project going, something would have to come up and show me what it was I was looking for. I was starting to worry it was all a big waste of time. If I didn’t get something soon I’d find it harder and harder to justify the gradual decrease in my savings as this unproductive monster kept gobbling up my funds. And I suspected I wasn’t getting anything “useful” enough for George for him to make good on his implied promise to help with the running costs if I hit pecuniary disaster.
I hate giving up, but I hate wasting money even more. I am my father’s son, it seems, after all.
My tenacity fights regularly with my conservatism. I believed in my project, still, very much. It could have been stubbornness. I can be stubborn I suppose, though I prefer to think of it as determined. An ex-girlfriend of mine said I raised stubbornness to an art form. I replied that instead I was just committed, to which she replied that I should be committed. Little wonder she’s an ex-girlfriend.
In any case I believed enough to keep going for now, keep trawling through hours of film – about five hours for each night per camera, of which there were four, covering 10pm to 3am, the busiest times of the night and morning. I fast forwarded through dull periods of nothingness, mostly these occurred on the footage of the camera fixed on the toilets. I was even thinking of ditching that camera angle all together, there is only so much that can be gained from seeing people streaming in and out, more inebriated or coked out of their heads each time, or the stumbling of people wanting either sex or to actually go to the toilet and barely getting inside the doors in time for either.
Apart from this, you tell me that watching people take a dump is an interesting way to pass the time and I’ll check you into the nearest psyche ward.
I alternated male and female toilets each night – it made little difference. The main activity was always sex or drugs, the secondary one in the female toilets was applying makeup, the secondary one in the men’s…well, there barely was a secondary one after sex and drugs, but they did sometimes take a piss as well. Any tribal rites in those vestibules were banal at best, highly repetitive, and uninteresting. I think George might have liked them though. It’s just a suspicion. I don’t have proof or anything; it’s just what I’d expect.
The darkened areas were more interesting – there did seem to be a lot of voyeurism that emanated from those areas, as though the people thought the shadows hid their obsessions. Mostly the people who gravitated to those nooks and crannies did not venture forth except to get a drink. They weren’t there to mix, or dance – even consumption of alcohol and drugs seemed secondary, though necessary. They were just people interested enough in watching others to venture out, to eschew the more inert forms of the myriad of people like them stuck in front of televisions every night. So they were social on some level, but reserved, dispassionate perhaps – removed. I thought something might be made of them, though it would be a slow process to get anything definitive.
And when I thought that, the idea struck me.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved