The Films of Jack Wormell: Spectacular Refuse – Spatial Refuse – Refuse of images
by Gareth Evans

London based artist-filmmaker Jack Wormell has been creating and exhibiting work online and at festivals since 2010. A consistent feature across Wormell’s forty-four films is the detritus that amasses in urban spaces. Through fragmentary collage, Wormell draws out the spectacular visual qualities, architectures and rhythms of these objects and their environments, which frequently form the ignored or passed-by places of everyday Britain. These spaces - a concrete area of structural supports at a motorway junction, a paved area surplus to development, a pathway and scrubland bordering an industrial estate – become wastelands and dumping grounds for materials of all kinds due to a perceived lack of utility and unimportance in relation to the activities that dominate around them: commuting, construction, and logistics of mass goods.

Increasingly, our experiences of public space feel imperatively transitory or regulated by, or in, proximity to consumerist activity. Indeed, many large squares and parks believed to be public in our cities are actually privately owned. Alongside attempts to regulate our behaviour, more or less subtly, such a situation leads us to feel that communal spaces do not belong to us and that we do not belong or have freedom in these owned and administered spaces. Wormell’s filmmaking practice finds ways, to reclaim and question an experience of these spaces opposed to those sanctioned interests. It is such an activity of transformation of everyday space through image-making that links Wormell’s work to a lineage of political practice that can be traced, in part, from the Surrealists, through the Situationists, to British filmmakers John Smith and Patrick Keiller.

In addition to the spectacular qualities of littered objects and the exploration of wasted spaces available in our quotidian experiences, Wormell’s filmmaking has also made use of usually discarded fragments of images; drawing upon their movements, framings and visual textures to explore the counterpoint of urban rhythms with those of the technologies and techniques that record them.

This essay seeks to introduce Wormell’s filmmaking to a wider audience by illuminating these three key aspects of his work.