Experiencing Interruptions?


** AWARDED Special Mention at London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival Autumn 2019 **

‘…. the tape recording, the weird lighting, the whole thing is so magnetic..’

‘…a kind of slow/no response that’s immediately very familiar of anyone who spends time with two people with one half distracted’

‘There is something so unnerving about it … a fantastic battlefield of the quotidian’

‘Your frustrations are bubbling to the surface that are in response to these contingent tape recordings - the whole thing has a really uncertain, strangely haunting, ultimately utterly mundane quality’

‘A conversation with the other through the self as a means of othering oneself – bringing the (speaking) body, a bodily intimacy back into the realm of speech and discourse in a very light way’

‘Love the sliding in and out of the drawings in the film … when you slide the dog into view, then you and Alex, then you and Alex and Rufus’

‘ …. like a marriage guidance film that uses humour and irony … an insight into human relationships (and not just because they are gay). Question of the dog and of marriage is absurd and funny but it does reflect any relationship’

‘Moments that are beautiful and confusing were when I was listening to a voice and projecting that voice onto a finger, moments when the voice coming from the finger wasn’t the body that was in the space but was another body. I lost track of how many people/ how many selves there were in the room – when I started to lose track is when the work becomes great’

‘Throws audience into a headspace of questioning what/where the subconscious comes from. I felt like I was witnessing someone falling into insanity somehow – like a psychosis’

‘Comedy is so much about things not happening in the sense that something might happen – the power of silence – brilliantly performed in this work in terms of using silence and expectation’

‘A really interesting investigation into what collaboration is – the work is a documentation of an exploration of the question’ is it my work or our work?’ - a hilarious articulation of some of the exploration of the dynamics of collaboration’

‘The humdrum of the everyday mixed with the …. David Lynch. Who’s better than showing you the humdrumness of everyday suburban life? The horrible frightening darkness underneath. This performance manages to do all that without feeling derivative. This feels very urgent.’

SUMMARY: Nobody ever really knows what’s going on in relationships. That terrible existential dread, that we know no one, and furthermore, we do not even know ourselves. This performance combines comedy, movement and visual performance and takes the form of a conversation where two speakers (my fiancée, Alex and I) don’t quite meet.. A performance all about control and my feelings in relation to another.

How Can I Get My Partner to Be My Finger? is a performance of tensions between the active and the passive of who is in control and who is being a puppet. Between the live and the mediated. Dialogues that oscillate between persuasion and control. Between the found and the spontaneous, the controlled and the supposedly uncontrolled. Between the supposedly intimate and the constructed. Between the demotic and the personal. What does it mean to speak for another when you are the kind of subject (gay)that is not meant to have a relationship to another? This performance is a conversation with the other through the self as a means of othering oneself.

The finger is the most primitive version of a puppet yet can still embody some expression.
The speaking body is very present in all my work. Ventriloquism in art hasn’t been exhausted at all. This performance presents my finger whose subjectivity is a multiplicity rather than a split personality showing that what we take to be interiority comes from the outside – we are literally speaking the world that we have been born into.

In a pitch-black space, a spotlight is shone on my finger in a similar stage set-up to how the mouth appearing disembodied was illuminated in Samuel Beckett’s stage direction for Not I
(there is very little discussion of homoeroticism in Beckett). What follows is a conversation between a couple -one present, one technologically distant - my partner Alex and I. Alex ‘speaks through’ my finger via a tape-recording. At times, it’s difficult to hear Alex but in relationships it’s often hard to understand the other person.Sometimes I ‘speak for’ Alex. The big question is: is it Alex speaking or is it me speaking? How can I get my partner to be my finger? The most proximate, the most intimate, the most utterly strange is the stranger within me. And the same for Alex.

The performance builds up tensions and then releases those tensions in much the same as the mechanisms of comedy. These tensions are built up using sets of unknown questions/set of words and phrases from somebody else (my fiancée, Alex) and how I improvise around these - the improvisation of someone else who is not actually there but ‘speaks through’ my finger. What is really speaking through the finger ... what body/psychical part ... what social relation ... whose stranger is being ventriloquised?

The performance serves up multi-layers, multi-voices: mine, me speaking in place of Alex (the voice of the finger) and Alex’s (actual) voice being played through a tape cassette recording which creates a bizarre displaced refigured sense of intimacy. Yet, throughout the entire performance the viewer is unsure where the voices are coming from, how many voices there are, whether the rewind was recorded etc. It appears there is no distinction between ‘self’ and ‘other’. When I pretend to be Alex, I am literally having an argument with myself.

From previous works of art I had made exploring issues around sharing, participation and trying to wrestle with the other and the other as people who don’t have sight or othering, this work works with literally the most proximate other to me, my partner. It is weirdly moving and perverse, universal yet profound, especially when during the work my partner is being so brilliantly destructive.

Something deeply intimate but radically outside of me. Being simultaneously performer/writer and performer/director/actor, I use my finger in a similar manner to the ventriloquism performed by Danny in the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining (speaking through one’s finger), a ‘voice’ from the finger comes from my partner Alex who pre-records (sometimes awkward, difficult, intimate, personal, humorous) phrases/questions into a Dictaphone in different voices I hear them coming from the finger every time I press play. I have had to train myself to put myself in a frame of mind to occupy a space of candidness in front of people with the finger without limiting myself. The performance becomes a potential site of conflict or revelation and just using finger feels much more like I am confronting myself. Alex works with what he knows to be my triggers. As the conversation unfolds, I try to control a narrative between me and Alex which I can't control. The conversation is ripe with absurdist dialogue and humour produced in my effort to try and control the (collective) narrative through the conversation. The question of marriage and getting a dog acts as an umbrella, a comedy frustration which through the course of the performance breaks down into these smaller dissonances which are humorous. A slideshow of pencil drawings by Lee that refers to ideality – Alex, Lee and Rufus the dog. Weird inversions taken place - the more controlling I become, the more feminine I become- then I am also the dominant one. I am effectively having a relationship with a voice box that won't do what I want it to do - this is reminiscent of those kinds of slippages that happen in relationships. Whilst the recording allows me to replay things which I wouldn't be able to do in real life, it creates an interesting distance that reveals something; in relationships we hear what we want to hear and sometimes that might be hearing confrontational things that we don’t like.

  • Lee Campbell
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes 22 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 1, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    Special Mention Autumn 2019
  • MicroActs: Invert Visions
    United Kingdom
    November 21, 2019
    Official Selection
  • Radical Ventriloquism, KELDER
    March 12, 2020
    Officia Selection
  • Homo Humour
    Miami, Edgezones, PerforMIA 2020
    February 15, 2020
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Lee Campbell

Dr Lee Campbell is an artist, performance poet, experimental filmmaker, writer, Senior Lecturer at University of the Arts London (UAL) and curator/founder of Homo Humour, the first of its kind project on contemporary queer male film and moving image practices that explore humour and LGBTQ+ storytelling and has screened all over the world since 2020. He lives in London.
Lee burst onto the London contemporary art scene in 2000 when he was invited to exhibit in 'Beautiful' held at the Oxo Tower Wharf with artists including Turner Prize winners Mark Wallinger and Chris Ofili and others including Danny Rolph, Hew Locke, Tomoko Takahashi and Chantal Joffe. He has since exhibited his work internationally as well as curated many exhibitions around the world. His experimental performance poetry films have been selected for many international film festivals since 2019. 
In 2023, Lee's poetry film ‘Bears with Bananas and Bubbles in Their Boxers’ was a Finalist in The Artists Spoken Word Competition, NYC, USA and 'Rufus' won Best Animated Short at The Rooster Film Festival, Portland, USA. His film SEE ME: A Walk Through London’s Gay Soho 1994 and 2020 (2021) has won numerous accolades including winning Best Experimental Film at Ealing Film Festival, London 2022, shortlisted for BEST POETRY FILM at the Out-Spoken Poetry Prize 2023, Southbank Centre, London and receiving Honorable Mentions at Los Angeles Underground Film Forum and Experimental Forum, Los Angeles both in 2023. Other film accolades include his film ‘Apple of my Eye’ as finalist in the Deanna Tulley Multimedia Prize 2022 and an Honorable Mention for 'Let Rip: Teenage Scrapbook' at REELPOETRY INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2023, Houston, Texas, USA and for 'Juniper Park' at Experimental Forum, Los Angeles in 2023.

Lee had his first solo exhibition in North America of his poetry films, See Me: Performance Poetry Films at Fountain Street, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A in July 2022 and a solo exhibition of poetry film, Bona Polari! at The Margate School, Margate and Wimbledon College of Arts Library, UAL in February 2022. In October 2023, Lee will have a solo retrospective of recent film work at Raun for Kunst, Paderborn in Germany.

Recent film screenings include: The Artists Spoken Word Competition, NYC, USA, Appalachian Queer Film Festival, Huntington, West Virginia, USA, Filmfest Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany, Squish Movie Camp, Rotterdam, Post Pxrn Film Festival, Warsaw, The West Virginia Mountaineer Short Film Festival, Morgantown, USA, Hacker Porn Film Festival, Italy, Brighton Rocks International Film Festival, Brighton, Hastings Rocks International Film Festival, Printworks, Hastings, New York City Independent Film Festival New York, TEASR Film Festival, Tucson, USA, The Rooster Film Festival, Portland, Oregon, USA, Lynchian Film Festival, Global Fest, Kino Club Helsinki with global Impro ensemble from The Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki, Musiikkitalo Finland, Deanna Tulley Multimedia Prize 2022,Down East Flick Fest, North Carolina, USA, PFFB Porn Film Festival Berlin, Berlin, WIPE Film Festival, Berlin, Iris Prize LGBTQ+ Film Festival, Cardiff, Wales, Ealing Film Festival, London, Monologues and Poetry International Film Festival, CINEM’aMOSTr, Teatro Municipal de Vila do Conde, Porto, Portugal, VIDEOAKTION #3, Raum für drastische Maßnahmenm, Berlin, SECS FEST, Seattle, USA, Hombres Video Poetry Award (Finalist) for ‘SEE ME’, SlamContemporary, Italy, (de)construction,, Kino Club Helsinki, Finland, SF Queer Film Festival, San Francisco, CA, USA, Failed Films Season 5,Los Angeles, U.S.A, Feminist Border Arts Film Festival, New Mexico State University, U.S.A,TRANÅS AT THE FRINGE - International Screening of Experimental Films and Videopoems, Sweden, Post Pxrn Film Festival, Warsaw, Living with Buildings II, Coventry, REELpoetry/HoustonTX 2022 International Poetry Film Festival, The Football Art Prize, UK-touring exhibition to Touchstones Rochdale, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield and Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens,NFSW Film Festival, Los Angeles, USA,Miami Performance International Festival, EdgeZones, Miami, FilmPride Brighton & Hove Pride's official LGBTQ+ film festival, Brighton, UK, Festival ECRÃ Edition 5, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wicked Queer Film Festival, Boston, USA, Fisheye Film Festival, UK, Southampton Film Week, UK, The Gateway Film Festival, UK, STATES OF DESIRE: Tom of Finland in the Queer Imagination, Casa de Duende, Philadelphia, USA. Darkroom Film Festival, Deptford Cinema, London, The Gilbert Baker Film Festival, USA, HOMOGRAFÍA/HOMOGRAPHY, Brussels. Visions 2020 selected by Hetain Patel, The Nunnery, Bow Arts Trust, London, Porn Film Festival Vienna, Satyrs and Maenads: the Athens Porn Film Festival, SPLICE Film Festival, OUTStream Film Festival and Queerbee LGBT Film Festival.

Lee has been interviewed numerously about his current film/performance work including interviews on BBC Radio Ulster with WIlliam Crawley, BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey with Kathy Caton for Out with Kathy, KMTV (local Kent-based TV station) interview feature about Bona Polari! solo exhibition, interview with Jane Glennie, Moving Poems Magazine in July 2022, Daniel Hess for To Tony Productions, Tim Kirk, Matt Skallerud for I Love Gay Today/PinkMedia LGBT, Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With – Lee Campbell (March 2021) BBC Radio Kent- Interview with Dominic King for The Dominic King Show January 2021. His film work has received critical acclaim with recent review features of his film work by Francesca de Luca in Cut Frame Magazine and James Clark in Lost Creatives. In 2008, he was interviewed by Libby Purves for BBC Radio 4 where he discussed his solo performance for Whitstable Biennale that year. 
Lee’s poetry has received critical acclaim and was mentioned in a Summer 2022 edition of London’s Islington Tribune. His poem ‘Clever at Seeing without being Seen’ was recorded for Sometimes, The Revolution is Small, Disarm Hate x Poetry project by Nymphs & Thugs Recording Co. UK.Publications of his poetry include Hakara: A Bi-Lingual Journal of Creative Expression, The Atticus Review, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Untitled. Voices, Gob Jaw Anthology 2019-2022, Issue Two: Wasteland, Powders Press, Issue One: First Times, Powders Press, Otherwise, You Are Here - The Journal of Creative Geography, Queerlings – A Literary Magazine for Queer Writing, New Note Poetry, Streetcake Experimental Writing Magazine, The New Normal and Step Away Magazine. 
Lee has a long history of curating performance and fine art exhibitions internationally. For example, between 2005-2008, he curated All for Show, an internationally touring film showreel of emerging and established British moving image artists whose work exposed the banalities of everyday life through humour, self-introspection, and serious play. In 2020, Lee curated Radical Ventriloquism at Kelder, London. His most recent curation is Homo Humour which has screened at Metal, Southend-on-Sea, Open Eye Liverpool and FRISE, Hamburg, Germany in 2022 and forthcoming at Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR), Brunel University. In October 2023, Lee curates Slang Bang in London  - a night of performance poetry contains spoken word slang. In January 2021, he curated a set of queer poetry evenings for BBC Radio. 


2023 WINNER of Best Micro Short for 'The Colour of His Eyes', Under Appreciated Film Festival
2023 Semi-Finalist for 'Head Boy', Neum Underwater Film Festival, Neum, Bosnia  
2023 Finalist for ‘Bears with Bananas and Bubbles in Their Boxers’ The Artists Spoken Word Competition, NYC, USA
2023 Honorable Mention for 'SEE ME', Los Angeles Underground Film Forum, Los Angeles, USA  
2023 Honorable Mention for 'SEE ME' and 'Juniper Park', Experimental Forum, Los Angeles
2023 Shortlisted for BEST POETRY FILM for ‘SEE ME’, Out-Spoken Poetry Prize 2023, Southbank Centre, London
2023 WINNER of BEST ANIMATED SHORT for ‘Rufus’ at The Rooster Film Festival, Portland, USA
2023 Honorable Mention for 'Let Rip: Teenage Scrapbook' at REELPOETRY INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2023,Houston, Texas, USA
2022 WINNER of BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM for ‘SEE ME’, Ealing Film Festival, London
2022 Finalist for ‘Apple of My Eye’, Deanna Tulley Multimedia Prize 2022
2022 Finalist for ‘See Shells’, Drumshanbo Written Word Weekend Poetry Film Competition, Drumshanbo, Ireland
2022 Juan Downey International Contest (Finalist), Chile 
2022 Hombres Video Poetry Award (Finalist) for ‘SEE ME’, SlamContemporary, Italy  
2022 Finalist for ‘Rufus’, MicroMania Film Festival 2022, Buffalo, NY, USA
2022 Finalist for ‘The Perfect Crime: A Doggy Whodunnit’, Absurd Art House Film Festival 2022
2022 Finalist for ‘Reclaiming my Voice’, Vesuvius International Film Festival
2022 Honorable Special Mention Award, Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival
2021 Best Psychedelic Fantasy film winner for 'See Me' (2020), Retro Avant Garde Film Festival NYC 
2021 Semi-Finalist, Serbest International Film Festival 2021
2021 Honorable Mention, Splice Film Festival, New York
2021 Nominee for Best Original Concept and Best Atmosphere Independent Horror Movie Awards 2021
2021 Honorable Mention Award for 'See Me' (2020), Screener Short Films  
2021 Best Kent Film nominee for ‘Peer’ (2020), Margate Bookie Film Festival
2021 Honorable Special Mention Award, Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival
2020 Semi-Finalist (3rd place winner), Splice Film Festival, New York
2019 Special Mention Award, London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

My work broadly explores vision, visuality, and the politics of seeing and not seeing and has a long historied body of practice since 2000. As both the writer, director and performer within the experimental films and poetry performances I create, I view my practice as me performing an autoethnography; using these media forms and the chosen themes within their narratives to help me self-reflect and (better) understand myself in relation to acts of looking, seeing and being seen and the difficulty in terms of not seeing/not being seen and my own subjectivity and experiences as British, working class, male, and gay. Themes of masculinity and desire underpin many aspects of my work.
Comedy historically comes from a queer identity defence, when it was harder to be gay in public, to be funny like Kenneth Williams who used gay slang known as Polari to communicate with other gay men covertly. Extending these ideas, underpinning my work are the mechanisms of comedy and humour to create a form of autoethnographic storytelling that subverts and challenges through a sophisticated usage of camp, innuendo and double-entendres to speak of personal narratives often raw, often painful but always generous and authentic.
Applied humour as a tactic to subvert and challenge a issues of homosexual identity and representation in relation to themes addressing seeing/not seeing etc. My practice presents a personal archaeology and revolves around my own autobiographical perspective, using the mechanisms of comedy and humour to engage, disarm, and highlight the gay male subcultural milieu which needs critique as it creates such stereotypes.
With a background in Painting and then Performance Art, my current artist moving image film practice brings together personal drawing, painting, photography and performance. Collage has become a major tool in this recent film practice, reinvigorating paintings and drawings that I produced nearly twenty years ago which are juxtaposed throughout my films with current photographic and performance for camera work. These films are often made with reusing / repurposing personal archival material and sound and moving image recordings. Things insist, in a spiral, nothing’s wasted. In my current practice, I use all my capacities, from theatre to drawing to painting to language to the comic to the affective to the relational, to painting and performance and film. Excavating (fine art) work I made long ago and resuscitating it, I bring it back to life through the medium of film and moving image. Integrating my fine artwork into my film work, my films create an arresting palimpsest effect by recycling pieces from previous bodies of work and placing them within my current context to see how their meanings may now differ from when they were first conceived. Whilst what is presented through my films can be read as one person’s (my) narrative, so too can it easily be read as lots of different voices layered to talk about wider levels of experience with various references to cultural context that (any)one can relate to.