Melody Woodnutt



Current Work

     Velvet Gloves
     Celestial Bodies
The Ship
Death Shroud for a Ship
16mm films
Tropical Gothic

Past Work (selected/partial)

The Symposium
Blind Coven
The Raven
Apathy and Wonder
Sex, Space, Intimacy
The Last Century Was About History, The Next Will Be About Belief 

Ongoing Project

The Weight of Mountains

Archived Work
2008 - 2018
(under construction) 

Sound pieces
Art Direction for film


   Artist Film Workshop


   Law and the Senses

   The Esoteric Travel Writing Research Group


The Ship, 16mm kinetic sculpture/film installation

In line with a contemporary use of 16mm film, my attempt to finish building a boat out of analogue materials instead of wood and to call it the same boat must assume a perdurantist perspective to make any sense. Persistence of an object is a metaphysical concept of time theory including, but not limited to, Endurance or Perdurance (and later Exdurance not elaborated on here). In theoretical analyses of time, Endurantism (quite simply) refers to objects that “persist by being wholly present at different times.” What causes issues for objects that endure is a concept of change, philosophers of time theory must navigate intrinsic properties that are in flux within an object (consider pregnancy or Theseus’ Ship). Perdurantism thus posits that persistence takes shape through temporal parts - ‘things’ or objects occupy time the same way you occupy space; time is dimensional. The first, middle, and last frame of a film still materially constitutes the same film despite that the frames are not identical - the same as a pregnant woman before, during, and after. A perduring object remains whole across the fourth dimension of time (a spacetime worm) by way of its temporal parts which can contain differing properties. Deleuze considers intrinsic properties of cinema as movement-images in that “each movement-image expresses the whole that changes.” Perdurantism may consider the physical identity of an object as a cumulation of such Deleuzian temporal parts. Noam Chomsky, on the other hand, considers Theseus’ Ship as a psychical conundrum rather than a metaphysical one when drawing out Hume’s position that objects are constructions of thought; Locke’s consideration of personhood to rest upon psychic continuity; and Hobbes argument that properties are characterized by their origins; and right back to Aristotle whereby matter is transformed by use or form – subsequently Chomsky accepts the rhetorical nature (imagine arms thrown in the air here) when he states “it just turns out that our concepts just don’t give an answer.” At which I take liberty whereby The Ship as a whole is not only its original wooden materiality but, as an artwork, embraces both a metaphysical persistence of the ‘object’ through alternate matter and form as well as a possibility through cognition of a speculative ‘reality’ and fiction so that a boat may begin as wood and end up as expanded cinema while retaining an identity of the whole as it persists over time.

In a Sisyphean attempt to finish building my late grandfather’s boat, I believe the object persists as the same boat still, while building it from cinema instead of wood. However, through the process of time and change, it may assume a different character, form, and atmosphere. Much the same can be said of a colony over time - though change, & in which way, can be seen in the hands of those who build it, or tear it down, and/or reconfigure new forms of existence and the metaphysical apparitions of such.


In world-building for cinema, fictions are put together from foley, scores, images, stories, Shakespearean arcs, montage, or dreamscapes in order to “know” a world. However, as is problematic in documentary practices, conveying a subjective lens upon a ‘real’ location contains a level of bias. In countering this, The Ship reveals its ‘fiction’ by showing us an installation of apparatuses including analogue projectors, 16mm still frames, speakers, and exposed film reels as a disjointed or exposed evocation of a speculative and overtly biased world. A fictional non-linear narrative can be deduced from the arrangement of The Ship’s temporal parts within an installation that cumulatively posits the boat’s identity in flux; the artwork leads us from blueprint, to boat frame, to cinema by presenting fragmented moments conducive to a transhistorical and intermediary world. I consider Frank’s boat as a conduit or a portal that folds together the foreboding natural and site-specific environs of the tropical location (crocodiles, death, the sea) with a subjective ‘tropical gothic’ fiction that de/re-territorialises the boat to live amidst a subversion of the Westernised tropical facade of paradise as seen in bright beaches, neon, and tourism to instead become submerged in a darker undertow that acknowledges the violent construction of Australia by colonisation and patriarchal oppression. As a fictional account of the boat in the event of its material absence, the artwork utilises incongruent visual and aural fragments to conjure it’s presence. Michel Chion established the idea of acousmêtre, whereby a sound or voice can be heard in a film but the source is undetermined. An acousmatic approach for The Ship positions field recordings or foley sounds as temporal parts that are dislocated within time and space yet allusively congruent to the imagery presented and exposes the lie of cinema or the construction of ‘image’ parallel to the lie of colonisation’s paradise.