Oliver Payne b. 1977
Driftwood (1999)
Driftwood (1998), a psycho-geographical tour of London and one of three short films marking the duo's American début in Gavin Brown's back room. Payne failed his degree at Kingston University last year. Relph went one better and got expelled. They both got lucky. Driftwood embraces Le Corbusier's vision of London as a 'pack dog' city, unplanned and chaotic, imperfectly Modern. It opens with a description of London's South Bank Centre as the scene of an ongoing battle between skateboarders and the forces of authority. The Centre's efforts at deterrence - strategically placed fences and spikes - recall devices intended to deter homeless people from sleeping in certain important doorways. The parallel illuminates precisely the territory that Payne and Relph inhabit: the intersection of play and social conscience, romantic escapism and the cruelty of the real. Driftwood embodies their approach in its subjective take on the documentary form. It is defiantly opinionated, unabashedly poetic, and it wears its sources (in this case filmmaker Patrick Keiller and writer Iain Sinclair) proudly on its sleeve. While not all of Payne and Relph's observations in Driftwood are original - roving hands-free phone users have been compared to the mentally ill before - there are enough flashes of brilliance to make the journey worthwhile. London Transport's flat fare policy on night buses earns it the designation of 'the last true Socialist movement', and 'Eat Money, Spend Food!' sounds like fine non-sensible advice. Graffiti kids are dubbed 'lycanthropic youth', and their efforts at toppling the established order of things are compared favourably with those of 'real' Anarchists, drinking contentedly in local pubs after a Stop the City demonstration.