“If the bog had a voice, how would it sound and what would it say to us?”
Cors Fochno [Borth Bog] is a rare and internationally significant example of lowland raised peat bog that sits at the centre of the Cymerau case study area; extending inland from the eastern edge of the coastal village of Borth. From April 2015 to May 2016, film-makers Anne Marie Carty and Dafydd Sills-Jones collaborated with Nick Jones – local musican and composer-in-residence for the Borth community choir Côr y Gors [‘Choir of the Bog’] – to create a documentary film that would explore local communities’ relationship with this distinctive landscape. How have conservation and land use affected, and been affected by, the water systems surrounding Cors Fochno – the rivers, estuary, drainage works and the sea – and how do the local inhabitants (humans and wildlife alike) occupy a position within these systems?
Unusually, the film-making process was driven by the aural elements: voices of local residents and farmers are interspersed with soundscapes created by Nick, that combine human singing of the choir with audio recordings of the bog and its water systems. The artists write that using this approach of:
“multi-layered voices in combination with more ‘realistic’ modes such as observational filming aims to allow the viewer to identify with individual human experience, with the soundscape sections providing ellipses for reflection and sustaining audience interest in a complex idea” (Carty, Jones and Sills-Jones 2016).
In this way, Y Gors was an opportunity not only to explore the issues of Hydrocitizenship, but also to push the boundaries and conventions of documentary film that deals with ecological themes; to, as the authors describe “adopt a documentary language that could express the complex relationship between a human community and the natural environment” (Carty, Jones and Sills-Jones 2016).
The result is a curiously haunting more-than-human, more-than-documentary that gives a voice to the bog and space to the viewer to contemplate the ‘nature’ of human-water relations in the Anthropocene.
ENGAGEMENT & PARTICIPATION
The project engaged with:
5 x local farmers
2-3 x conservationists
15 x choir members
3 x “performers” who contributed voices to the soundscapes of the film
The film has been screened widely (and internationally) in a number of different contexts:
AHRC Being Human Festival, Aberystwyth, November 2016
Tampere International Film Festival, Finland, 2017
Wales International Documentary Film Festival, 2017
Other public screenings:
Talybont Village Hall, July 2016
Canolfan Cletwr, Tre’r-ddol, September 2016
Dyfi Biosphere AGM, October 2016
Museum of Modern Art Wales, Machynlleth, December 2016 & May 2017
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, November 2016
The Friendship Inn, Borth, November 2016
Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), Pantperthog, December 2016
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Anne Marie Carty is a filmmaker who uses video as a tool to create safe spaces for reflection and imagination for people and communities. She has 20 years’ experience as a filmmaker and participatory video worker, and since 2006 she has been developing a reflexive filmic practice with and for the rural communities of the Dyfi Valley, including a series of 6 documentary films called Tir Cyffredin – Shared Land. annemariecarty.co.uk
Nick Jones is a composer/songwriter creating music for the theatre at home and abroad. He runs and leads the Borth-based community choir ‘Côr Y Gors’. The choir is unusual in that its subscription base pays for Nick to write music for the choir; they sing his music exclusively. He teaches and leads workshop, and sings and writes for local 3-piece band, ‘Whistler'.
Dafydd Sills-Jones is a lecturer in media production cultures at Aberystwyth University. He works through traditional scholarly approaches, as well as through filmmaking. His recent work includes the documentary film ‘17’ (2014) that depicted the serenity of the collective cultural script of a Helsinki suburb, and ‘Pwy Yw T.H.?’, a video installation that conjured the voice of the late poet T.H. Parry-Williams through a contemporary ‘choir’ of readers.