The Tipping Point

Neil Armstrong - 2020

Length 08:41


Civil wars and terrorist attacks at home and abroad fuelled confused debates around migration, immigration and nationalism, ultimately sliding towards the whole Brexit meltdown.

Dystopian in tone, with a certain element of absurdist black humour, the content of this verse has become ever more relevant. Originally meant to be read aloud, five years later I decided to make this the basis of a video piece, voicing it as a male/female joint dialogue spanning the Atlantic.

I collect online video clips and audio that identify as license free or creative commons, sometimes re-filming these off the screen or manipulating them in some way. I do a similar thing with clips of my own original footage – some SLR HD originated, some shot on my phone. There are events (such as the centenary of the shelling of the Hartlepools in 1914) that I filmed and stored away, which formed a library of material I drew on for this piece.

Although the tipping point is a linear narrative, I endeavour to cross reference footage in a way which moves across time to make non linear connections, approaching the timeline of the edit in a fluid, layered way which has much in common with collage, inviting both literal and less conscious interpretation. The words become a visual element of the piece, referencing its origin.

With the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a startling relevance to the re-evaluation of values and social structure in this verse. Touching on the idea that allegiance and ideological ‘faith’ is itself a virus, there is an element of prediction, given that the narrative was written a full six years before Covid appeared.

This piece was written in an almost stream of consciousness manner and as such mimics the conversational style of the content. I was reading epic verse such as Beowulf and Basil Bunting’s Briggflatts at the time but, on reflection, The Tipping Point is undoubtedly influenced by the verse convention found in the Rupert Bear annuals that I avidly read as a boy.

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