Martha Fiennes is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and artist. Her multi-layered work is increasingly informed by technological developments and ideas in contemporary art practice, while remaining resolutely the creative expression of a highly gifted filmmaker.
What kind of devices do you use, and how do you use them?
I use an Apple macbook laptop and Apple iPhone 8.
Effectiveness requires focus. How vulnerable are you to the distraction industry?
Not really. If you mean “social media”? by ‘distraction industry’?
I am of that generation who did not build their brand or name upon social media. The process of making work in my experience is time consuming enough, let alone being your own in-built marketing and distribution department at the same time. But each person is different and operates with their own different criteria of importance.
I am definitely circumspect - or personally vigilant about the value of exchanges. I feel an urge to progress - or try to - each day and not to become oriented with comms that do not serve.
However, I am ‘distracted’- or rather supremely orientated by the vast number of emails and texts that flow through one’s life each day.
Most of this is “work” related so acceptable for that. But the ease of communications also beckons in a kind of easy entitlement to communications.
Just keeping batting that ball back over the net - i.e. responding to people one feels bound to respond to - can swiftly erode the precious hours of the day.
Prominent figures in Silicon Valley are known to strongly limit their children’s contact with tech. Madonna has recently said that she believes she made a mistake in giving her older children phones when they were 13.
The differences between people who grew up before smartphones and those who didn’t?
I know that people throughout the ages have wrung their hands in agony over the ‘next big thing’ that will distract and destroy the upcoming generation.
In the 18th century - which saw the huge rise in popularity of the novel - middle class parents fretted about their children “always with their nose in a book “ - and not participating int the ‘real world’. Now of course, we dream that our children will read books. Then in the 20th century, it was TV - and all the intellectual agony about children being ‘spoon-fed’ drivel with no enabling of the imagination. Today, unsurprisingly, it is the much debated plethora of the info superhighway; smartphones/ laptops/pads.. the lot.
But I tend to believe in the intelligence of the human race - or let’s say, its potential intelligence. I believe there is an aspect within each individual - somewhere at least - whereby they kind of ‘know’ when something is not working or serving them. I mean, we are not total idiots surely? My most positive belief is about progressive change. The ‘figuring out’ of what is serving at one level but not serving at another.
Was the novel so destructive for the children of the 18th and 19th centuries and was TV the thing that robbed 20th century generations of their imagination?
We are surely bigger than that. Above all, we would do best to keep remembering that.