Stone structures, scarred by war, act like parabolic-dish antennas, establishing a connection with deep space.
Please listen with headphones as the audio is left & right channel specific.
When we come to it' focuses (visually) on London’s stone buildings and monuments that were scarred by bombs during the WWII Blitz, as well as those dropped by Zeppelins during WWI. Aurally, the film combines evocative sounds of war; snippets of political speeches from world leaders throughout subsequent decades; and space sounds recorded by NASA.
The film proposes the hypothesis that these scars can act like parabolic-dish antennas, not only receiving sounds from deep space, but perhaps also transmitting back. Any life forms receiving these transmissions might interpret them, as largely indicative of what humanity has to offer. The irony that these scars were created by acts of hate should not be lost on us, or them.
Stylistically, the film plays with the left and right audio channels. The left channel is consumed with sounds of war and politics, whilst space sounds infiltrate the right. As we move closer towards the concave shapes in the stone, the space sounds consume both channels, inviting the viewer to focus and reflect on the futility of war and what intelligent life might be ‘out there’.
The title, 'When we come to it', is borrowed from Maya Angelou’s 'A Brave and Startling Truth', a poem that resonates thematically with the film.
The film utilises an end quote: ‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’, which originated with cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees (although he undoubtedly adapted it from the writer William Cowper’s quote ‘Absence of proof is not proof of absence’). Rees’ quote is often misattributed to Carl Sagan, who used it similarly, in relation to the search for other life in the universe. It is a welcome coincidence that Donald Rumsfeld appropriated the same quote in reference to the ‘WMD’ debate during the Iraq War, allowing the end quote to act as a further link between the elements of war and space in the film.
Timothy Smith 2015