51º 30’ 44” N, 0º 0’ 38" E marks the spot of artist, musician and composer Jem Finer’s studio. As the map reference implies, it is only a stone’s throw from the Greenwich Meridian, and as we can tell from the evidence of our eyes, it lies right at the edge of the River Thames. As we can hear as well as see, it also sits directly under the flight path of London City Airport, and its immediate vicinity is regularly filled with the overlapping sounds of many kinds of industrial and mercantile activity. 51º 30’ 44” N, 0º 0’ 38" E is also the name of a 40-minute film that records, or, better, distils, a period of twelve months in which Finer’s studio became subject and vantage point for a concentrated study of the nuances and particularities of place, both visually and sonically. Buffeted by the storms of the winter of 2013/14, which make this former shipping container feel increasingly like a vessel at sea, Finer’s familiar workspace changes its ambience over the course of the year: from monkish bolt-hole and creative refuge to open-door playroom. As well as a barometer of the fluctuating weather (and the artist’s outlook at different times of the year, and at different times of day), the film monitors, and deftly traverses, the waves of the audio spectrum, weaving sounds from air, land and water as recurring patterns in its shifting, atmospheric mix. Although it takes its name from a prosaic set of geographical coordinates, 51º 30’ 44” N, 0º 0’ 38" E is a haunting paean to the spirit of place.
Showing on FVU Watch from 22 January 2021
1–2 February 2014, PLACE, Snape Maltings
7 May 2014, Hackney Picturehouse
20 June 2014, Aldeburgh Festival
19 November 2014, Hackney Picturehouse
5 January 2015, Whitechapel Gallery
Curated and produced as part of the group project Stay Where You Are by Steven Bode of Film and Video Umbrella and Gareth Evans. Supported by Jerwood Arts. Film and Video Umbrella is supported by Arts Council England.