Location Scouting for Antoine Boutet’s film “South to North”
In 2009, Antoine Boutet, French artist and documentary film producer, invited me to assist him on the first location scooting for his latest film on China and its looming water crisis. Previously, Boutet has also produced a film exploring China’s Three Gorges Dam. We were on the road for six weeks when we finally arrived at the first traces of a canal and bridge construction project which aimed to transfer water from the south to north of China—across a distance of more than 5000 km. This epic journey allowed us to measure the impacts of these works on the landscape through a vast array of territories, primarily rural. Our travel did not exceed more than 200 km a day, which enabled us to appreciate and reflect on the scenery, topography, and social and cultural dimensions of the areas we travelled across.
Bridges, roads, headlands, village ruins, buses, amusement parks and natural parks, abandoned pools, transit or irrigation canals, dams, locks, earth mounds, guarded zones and vacant lots: they all comprised the framework for our location scooting, creating a kind of “territorial initiation” as we made our journey.
I took a few notes and made some drawings in my travel book, taking some photos as well during the journey. Here is a short selection. With each entry there is a corresponding title, mileage record and, depending on my particular encounters that day, some observations, discussion, and/or personal observations.
In this photographic selection, prepared with Thomas Sauvin, we favored the image quality and their “photogenic” articulation over simple chronological descriptions of the journey.