Clarence Pier (2022)

Created as a series of interconnected scenes Karanjit Panesar’s newly commissioned film, Clarence Pier runs in a seemingly endless loop with no clear beginning or end. Slipping between physical and virtual environments, the artist exposes what would ordinarily be behind the scenes. We see the microphones and dolly tracks; the cameras and the crew; the edges of the SmartStage and even the green Volumetric Capture studio, where the actors are rehearsing their lines before re-materialising on a virtually rendered beach.

Although this is the first film in which Panesar has used some of the technologies seen here; strange loops and Brechtian techniques, which reveal the artificial nature of the work, are a recurring feature in his practice. Everything shown on the screen has been a conscious choice in the edit suite. Apparent gaffes or glitches all point us to the technology and remind us that although there are elements of fact in the script, the rest is almost entirely fiction.

The dialogue throughout the film is taken entirely from interviews with local people in Portsmouth that have a connection to Clarence Pier. What appear like coherent and cohesive monologues are actually extracts from multiple conversations, edited and spliced together to make a collage of words and sentiment. Casual phrases like, “Do you know what I mean?” make the speech feel natural but when we hear repeating sections of narrative said by different performers we are reminded once again that these are actors reciting a constructed text. The script also dictates the visuals. Shot on location on Clarence Parade we see the seascape and the hovercraft which are being described, then in an entirely digital space we see the same hovercraft, a tarantula and a whole amusement arcade, which have been totally manufactured inside a gaming engine. The film is both unquestionably site-specific and an unreliable fabrication.

Beyond the tricks and the tech, Karanjit Panesar has constructed a work which delves into complex central themes. In their body language we see the actors’ recurring need for physical connection and they seem determined to find common ground with each other, even if it means discussing uncomfortable territory such as strong political opinions or grief. 

In the collected anecdotes we hear about local economies, working class culture and physical toil but in the virtual Clarence Pier the lights are on and the money is not pouring in (or out). Two pence pieces are piling up around the actors, contrasting starkly with the super high tech kit in the brand new film production facilities. Nearby staff stare into the screens which provide them with work and leisure, and on the beach one of our main characters plays with the old arcade lettering spelling out CHANGE.

Vickie Fear, Curator, Aspex Portsmouth

Clarence Pier has been commissioned by Aspex Portsmouth and the University of Portsmouth CCIXR with funding from the UK Community Renewal Fund.

Hattie Ball
Marc Cook
Level Designer
Liam Peachey
Environment Artists
Douglas Wager
Liam Peachey
3D Artists
Nikki Mundy
Iyioluwa Owoyemi
Volumetric Capture Technician
Liam Peachey
Motion Capture Technicians
Sam Birmingham
Panduka Rajapakse
Jessica Hunt
SmartStage Technician
Paulina Melon
Camera Operator
Andreas Christofou
Sound Recordist
Owen Tripp
Original Score
Ashley Keep

Enabling XR Enterprise (eXRe):
Business Director
Pippa Bostock
Technical Director
Alex Counsell
Academic Lead
Stephen Pearse

Shot on location at Southsea Seafront and CCIXR at the University of Portsmouth.

Special thanks to Clarence Pier

Naomi Knox
Faisal Dacosta
Patricia Jones
Sophie Kandola

All dialogue was taken from transcripts of interviews with
Maisie Clark
Chris Gibbs
Karen Brooks
Rick McKay
Jim Lush

Writing, direction, cinematography, editing, colouring, mixing
Karanjit Panesar