The Audubon Trilogy: Cairo – New Madrid – West Point (12A)

Total running time: 47 mins. Certificate 12A.

Collaborative artists Cartwright & Jordan’s three short films, each drawing upon the writings of 19th century artist, ornithologist and frontiersman John James Audubon.

Filmed along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, the Trilogy connects and contrasts Audubon’s vivid tales of Frontier America with their present day locations: an expansive, cinematic landscape of frozen rivers, backwoods, highways, bluffs, farmland, hunting camps, factories, freight trains and small towns.

With chance encounters influencing the film-making process, the artists deploy a part-documentary approach, filming a wide and varied topography, both manmade and natural, from bald eagle flocks and tupelo swamps to dilapidated towns and road kill. The visually striking scenes are used in conjunction with a voiceover and a soundtrack created from location recordings.

In combining footage of the contemporary American landscape with Audubon’s dramatic observations from the early 19th century, the films reference themes of exploration and romanticism; our relationship to a disappearing wilderness; species extinction; social change, and economic rise and fall.

The Trilogy is now published as a DVD and illustrated book, designed by the artists and distributed by Cornerhouse Publications, and accompanies Cartwright and Jordan’s exhibition in Cornerhouse Gallery 1, Cairo: the breaking up of the ice (Sat 23 January – Sun 28 February 2010).