Benjamin James

MA Visual Arts (Fine Art) 2013

Camberwell College of Arts


Ben James is a film maker and photographer whose work explores the process of technological advancement and the preservation of that which is left behind.

Whilst being at the forefront of exploring new media, artists increasingly also find themselves as guardians of threatened technologies, defining their future through continued use and reinterpretation. Working primarily with 16mm film, Ben’s practice explores the ever evolving intersection between analogue and digital processes to better understand not only the role digital is playing in the decline of analogue film, but the role it may have in helping save it.


CC Utrillo is a 3 minute, colour 16mm film shot in 2013 aboard a container ship.

The film tells the story of celluloid cameras placed overlooking the ship’s decks to record the positions of freight aboard container vessels. The cameras, placed on a timelapse setting, acted as a trustee that a ship had lost nothing of its cargo. Once the ship had docked and the cargo was accounted for, the film became worthless. But should something go wrong and a container fall overboard, the strip of film held a passage of time that could not have been altered. Unwilling to accept a digital file for fear of manipulation, the strip of film provided the insurer with certainty that a claim was valid. A fact that could be established without the need for arbitration, material proof.

By telling the story of a particular application of film in industry, CC Utrillo looks to celebrate the unique properties of celluloid / analogue film in the face of increased digital substitution.



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