PETRA BRNARDIC NANCY WYLLIE MOZGHAM ERFANI RROSE PRESENT JOHAN PARENT WILLIAM SERGEANT JESSICA GIACOBBE PAU PASCUAL GALBIS NICOLAS GAILLARDON DELPHINE HSI NI MEI DANA BERMAN DUFF ENRIQUE VERDUGO ANANTHA KRISHNAN
From experimental cinema to fashion videography, fourteen artists breaking the boundaries Since its foundation, Stigmart10 has encouraged a conception of art based on a dynamic dialogue between artists and audience, reflecting the interactive nature of the creative act itself. A winning formula, according to the doubled number of submissions - more than 3000 applicants have submitted their video works and CV in 2014 - and the increasing popularity of our project. We are glad to present this year's edition of Videofocus, our special Stigmart10 review focused on experimental cinema, original fashion videography and courageous documentary. Stigmart10 Team
"Memory induced explorations of places I once knew. Here, these places are not weighted with nostalgia because they still contain great potential for discovery. This short film is both a fictional and non-fictional depiction of my re-encounters with childhood sanctuaries as an "adult."
"A broken compass, where east and west lose all sense of direction, leaves the space open to the traveler, to chase the perpetuate with the vanishing moment. There are no directions, in the battle to free the senses of all references or possessions. Toward that place to set the psychomagic act, in the search for personal alchemy."
Dana Berman Duff
Consciousness of the apparatus and the cultural conditions of the medium, along with an awareness of the position of the author, is fundamental to anything I make, along with attempting to make those conditions transparent.These days Iâ€™m primarily interested in stillness as a filmmaker and the inescapable fact of movement as a sculptor. "
"In Her Dreams is a video work showing us the quasi-trance oneiric act of the ritual of a veiled Venus desiring to go away from the world which surrounds her, from the constant pressures which are imposed on her. A woman with the sensual voluptuous body, composing a dream, in order to not to see any more nor to hear the reality which reigns outside. "
An old mattress dumped on a busy highway has been anonymously spray painted with a seemingly familiar 3 word phrase that serves as an exploration of syntax. Syntax, generally based on the constituent structure of sentences complete with subject, verb and object has been subverted in this video short titled NOTHING, in ways that are at once humorous and filled with 21st century angst.
Delphine Hsini Mei
"Like a lonley island of amnesia, each of us circles around the different selves, dancing endlessly, twirling the gorgeous and ethereal waltz.. Deep shadows of BLACK slowly burning its flame, while WHITE still stay in that silent sitting amidst a imaginary oceanic waves. "
Pau Pascual Galbis
Viewers have to discover through image and sound, the anguish and frustration of the human beings, repressed and unaccomplished desires. In short, it's a film about dealing with the internal and intimate conflict, like Alain Robbe Grillet expresses his works as: Je n'ai jamais parlé d'autre chose que de moi.
Moment started during a stay in Lebanonwhen I took part in an exhibition. Theunderstanding and perception of time are sodifferent than in Europe. Every moment is filled, intense and can be seen as an emotionally saturated moment. It is natural that I recorded a multitude of moments where men are usually missing from the picture.
The video I make your story out of mine comes in the continuation of a publication, To the North, South, East and West, nothing. The curtain falls. End of Act One. (2012), that includes several stories concerning an inn located at the island of Terceira, Azores. This inn has an historical background connected to the dictatorial Portuguese regime that ruled Portugal for 40 years until 1974.
A journey through sound and image processing referencing filmic imagery of the cultural construction of Europe, imagery that contrasts with the “visual” content of moving images which are extracted from the virtual network of those crossing the borders of Europe “without permission”
"Self lavage is a short film which shows the putting into service, vacuous, the night, of an automobile car wash point. The video lasts the time of the temporal process of the machine; wiever contemplate in a performance.The karcher starts in rhythm, as a dance show. "
"Scott Morrison intertwines video installation and intricate sound compositions to create new ways of viewing both natural and synthetic environments. Morrison’s small choir, is a single channel video that moves into an increasingly complex yet seemingly familiar world of natural elements."
Anantha Krishnan 132 Intimate unintentional voyages towards external landscapes and organic representations due to impeccable internal melancholy linked with my artistic compulsion. unpreparedness facilitates accidental montages and political argumentativeness encompassed upon Indian subaltern philosophy.
This is psychedelic trip to my imagery grown out of my photos, which engages with a story about doppelgängers, alter-egos that are equal (represented symetrically) just on the surface. It's like a dance of overlapping and melting homonyms containing fundamental mental, emotional and spiritual opposites that cause inner turmoils, identity disturbances and fragmentations of ego
Sije Kingma "I wander around in my inner world. It is a universe of puppets , actors and comic characters. A shadowgirl escapes violently out of a glass laboratory-egg and experiences a suffocating memory off a roaming crowd. A detective is confronted with a morphing priestess and visits a tower in the city to be incorparated in a meditation ritual. "
Jessica Giacobbe Memory induced explorations of places I once knew. Here, these places are not weighted with nostalgia because they still contain great potential for discovery. This short film is both a fictional and non-fictional depiction of my re-encounters with childhood sanctuaries as an "adult." Jessica Giacobbe
A still from Catalysts and Aftershocks Single Channel Video Projection: Without Sound Digital Video and Digital 16mm Film Transfer
An interview with
Jessica Giacobbe Jessica Giacobbe displays extraordinary cinematography in her intensive, poetic and contemplative film Catalysts and Aftershocks. Her cinema reveals a remarkable ability to echo intense mind states, giving each shot a certain emotional quality. The hallmark of Jessica's talent resides in her acute sensitivity, and in her absolute sincerity. Jessica, how did get into filmmaking? My first encounters with film began in 2011. These first experiments and exercises were in response to a sculpture I created that called for a “performative element.” I was interested in capturing a performance that could be layered with sound and assembled into pieces that portray a narrative. Coming from a traditional fine arts background, my technical knowledge of film at the time was minimal. Looking back I almost consider it an advantage, due to my lack of technique I was truly experimenting and taking wild risks I can’t say I’d take now. Risks such as filming in a crowded light emporium while wearing a headpiece that emerged 3+ feet from my person. I was simply going with my gut, uninhibited by anything I ever read in a text book. Learning about video through sculpture and performance documentation completely changed my direction while in college. Turning me on to more experimental modes of filming and creating. Since then I have made filmmaking my primary focus. The natural settings you have chosen for Catalysts and Aftershocks are expansive, while the stories that you film are very intimate. It seems as if you were searching constantly for a confrontation between the exterior and interior of things. Can you introduce our readers to this aspect of your cinema? The natural settings within Catalysts and Aftershocks are located on a small plot of land in northeastern Pennsylvania. This land still belongs to my grandparents but has definitely
Jessica Giacobbe changed over the 23 years I have experienced it. The garden seen in the opening shots has shrunk to nearly half of it’s original size. The barn that used to house dairy cows and horses now only holds stray cats. These crucial spaces that shaped much of my childhood are shrinking and decaying. The explorations examined in this film are induced by childhood experiences that have continued to make their presence known in my memory. These internal and even intimate memories are most definitely challenged by the expansive and ever changing landscape I call home. So I confronted these internal
memories by revisiting these external spaces and filming the results. What I found was rather surprising. I realized that these spaces are forever changing, therefore opening the possibility for new discoveries. These places for me are no longer weighted with these memories but are now familiar sites that act as conductors for new ideas. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you develop the idea for Catalysts and Aftershocks?
just returned from a five month journey where I was studying and traveling throughout New Zealand. After experiencing this extraordinary place, I felt more in tune and even more awake once I returned home. My home as a â€œplaceâ€? suddenly became very important to me as I realized I would not stay here forever. At this point I did not expect this film to become the centerpiece of an entire body of work. I just knew that I wanted to capture the idea of surrealism in memory, and discovery through action.
The earliest stages of this project began developing during the summer of 2013. I had
The academics behind the film were fueled by my new interests in improv dance, the
A still from Catalysts and Aftershocks Single Channel Video Projection: Without Sound Digital Video and Digital 16mm Film Transfer
A still from Catalysts and Aftershocks Single Channel Video Projection: Without Sound Digital Video and Digital 16mm Film Transfer
psychology of touch, and memory in philosophy. During my last semester in college I found myself being the only filmmaker in an improvisational choreography class. Exploring spaces of my brain and thought process that I had never done before. Alongside this I was also studying the psychology of touch and it’s crucial effect on memory. I realized that numerous philosophers, specifically Proust, had spent a potion of their careers exploring “touch” and its links to memory. In a way I was taking all my interests and applying them in realtime when creating this short.
Catalysts and Aftershocks features a sort of coexistence between past and present in both imagination and perception. Can you comment on this aspect of your work? There is a common thread throughout all my work, that thread is the space between paradox. I’m continually fascinated by the blends of real and surreal, and continually trying to find the perfect balance between them. Films that are overly farfetched and full of special effects don’t hit me hard had as films that use illusory tactics in real time. Utilizing
fictive approaches that are often avoided. For example, the power of looking directly into the camera, something I learned from Chris Marker early in my career. Simply breaking the barrier between the audience and imagination.
Within Catalysts and Aftershocks, you use a digitalized 16mm footage. Can you describe your encounter with old analog media that has inspired much of your cinematography?
I often find myself forming narratives that have many contradicting elements. This to me is not a problem but rather an exciting challenge for the editing room. Asking myself questions such as, “How can I make polar opposites relate?” “Why is that important?”
I was exposed to analog filmmaking around the same time I became interested in digital video. Luckily I attended a university that sill taught the basics of 16mm filmmaking. Ever since my first encounters with this mysterious and dying medium I’ve been hooked.
Throughout my last 3 years of college I persistently shot on film. The attractiveness for me lies not only in the films over all romantic tone, but in the process of creating it. The physical act of cranking the camera is so much more satisfying than the push of a button. I’m also attracted to the elements of chance, luck, and uncertainty that result from the inability to immediately review my work. There is also a preciousness that suddenly presents itself when I realize that the 100 foot roll I just purchased grants me only 2 minutes of filming.
The theme of nostalgia is central to your film. How has your history influenced the way you produce art? I’ll begin by saying that I do my best to avoid the word nostalgia, although themes of it have found it’s way to the center of this film. I only say this because of nostalgia’s potential to portray a sad or melancholic tone rather than a commemorative or celebratory tone. My personal history has absolutely influenced the way I produce art. I had the most beautiful childhood one could ever ask for. Growing up amongst the trees, never wearing shoes in the summer, riding horses all while surrounded by my family. This is most definitely the cause of
We would now like to explore your earlier work Expectation Possession in collaboration with Kelsey Ludwig. Can you describe this experience? It was an amazing experience working with an artist that I both know and respect. Ludwig and I had worked on smaller and exercise based projects in the past, but Expectation Possession was our first time working together on a larger piece. The loose yet contained structure of this project gave us both the freedom to improvise together while maintaing the focus of the piece, which was to portray a subject who experiences false expectations, curiosity, struggle, fear, and ownership. During the filming process I would guide Ludwig verbally through her mental state. As a spoke, Ludwig would create movements and choreography as a response to my vague and sometimes surreal story telling. The experience was definitely a milestone for me in regards to learning about collaboration, improvisation, and the magic that can happen when combining the two. Coming from a background that was appreciative but inexperienced in dance, it was exciting to trust Ludwig to portray my vision in a way that was hers. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts, Jessica, we wish you all the best with your filmmaking career. Are there any film projects on the horizon? my obsessions with nature, travel, and working with my hands. But I must admit, that looking back at these memories now from the concrete jungle of Los Angeles, I now do feel an element of nostalgia. Craving nature and getting lost in it has heavily influenced not only the content on my work but how I create it. Most of what I make is completely intuitive, improvisational and sparked by what is attracting me in a specific place. I find it necessary to bring myself into landscapes that expose themselves as anything but manmade. I’m confident in saying that my best work is made when doing this.
Currently I’m working alongside the composer/multidisciplinary artist RYAT on her upcoming multimedia exhibition of ALT-MODE (2015-2016). An entire creative team and I are in the process of creating a visual environment for her performance that will consist of projection mapping, animation, dance, costume, and set design. I’m also working on numerous side projects including short films and personal work. My goal is to keep making, as much as possible, as often as possible. Thanks so much for having me on board, it’s been a fulfilling and unique opportunity to be apart of this.
Enrique Verdugo An artist's statement
A broken compass, where east and west lose all sense of direction, leaves the space open to the traveler, to chase the perpetuate with the vanishing moment. There are no directions, in the battle to free the senses of all references or possessions. Toward that place to set the psychomagic act, in the search for personal alchemy. Time infuses garments with parts of life and memories.
I believe that what creates iconic fashion is social phenomena. Fashion appears and is reinforced through the passing of time, thereby creating a style, often born from social movements or related phenomena. It amuses me how the fashion industry struggles every season of the year, year after year, attempting to reinvent itself, borrowing from social phenomena and the arts. There is a lack of substance in this industry and its chronic reinvention, which attempts to camouflage the real core of an ethos of profit based in consumerism. True fashion comes from real people, with individual selfâ€? expression.
Time infuses garments with parts of life and memories. Looking how time passes behind a personal garment, clothes, the possibility to recall memories, experiences, and attachments appears as a bridge to cross. Connecting our past and the world around us. This film glimpses a metaphor about departure and emigration. What does it mean to leave behind emotional bonds and bury them in a ritual or sort of poetic act, perhaps a way to emancipate emotions.
My short film ‘Broken Compass’ was not meant to deal with any aspects of fashion. It does happen however, that the ‘noir’ aesthetic of the film is part of the narrative and coincides with the characters dressing. I was attracted to the idea of producing a work using stop frame animation. Sometimes still images in sequences can give a bigger emphasis in nuances and describing action than can continuous footage. I think the film is quite open, because it offers the possibility of multiple interpretations.
An interview with
Enrique Verdugo Enrique, how did you get into experimental cinema? As a photographer, experimentation has always been the key in developing my ideas and informing my creative process. Time, motion and space were the main inspirations in my series of work “Body and Flux”, which sought to explore the inner connection between movement and energy that can be expressed in a still image. Photography started to synthesise my ideas which eventually led me to work increasingly with concepts, leaving behind the “in a second” physicality of the medium. Eventually, I became more interested in experimenting with story telling by combining genres in my personal approach to documentary films and story telling, by attempting to open other channels to relate the viewer to the films. For me, memory and images are what remains after viewing a film. Experimenting how to associate these elements is the seductive essence of making films. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Broken compass? The idea for the film was born while talking to an my very good friend Ricardo Gaete, an artist mime of the physical theatre tradition, who was having difficulties with his visa status in the UK. He could see the possibilities of staying near his son Lautaro were beginning to dissolve as the immigration policies in the UK became tougher and tougher. As he related this to me one autumn evening, his problems, emotions and his frustrations, he suddenly exclaimed, “I have been wearing this coat for the whole four years I have lived in this country. This coat is full of my experiences, good and bad. I want to bury it!”
After some time of sitting in silence, I suggested to him that we make a film with the coat. I felt the constellation of narratives, emotional and visual elements were there, and like a ball ready to roll. What was the most challenging thing about making Broken compass? I felt Broken Compass would be mainly marked by â€˜time and emotionsâ€™ shaping its form in a linear narrative.
The silent film allows the viewer to focus on the charactersâ€™ presence and their gestures to convey their emotions. Broken Compass portrays a feeling of abandonment and departure and love, which at once gives all, and lets everything go. I felt that a video camera would diminish the power of my idea, as 25 frames per second would not be necessary. I was looking to break with the logic of sequences,
I wanted the film to convey the same feeling to the viewer as it might in a comic strip format. As I had never worked with stop frame animation before, it took me a long while to sense the pace of the film, and distil how the photographs would unfold to give the rhythm I wanted for the story. There is no common timing in the sequences, each frame was worked individually to sense its potential and accent its expression. With help from my fantastic editor Roter Su, we shaped the final form of the film. Once the film was made, I had the privilege of collaborating with Andria Degens (Pantaleimon), with her music and influences to create the soundtrack. She developed a sound with a crescendo intensity. The resonance of the Indian harmonium instrument gave the film its final touches, fine tuning the emotionality of the scenes. We have been impressed by your clear story telling. In Broken compass you create a time-based work that allow the viewer to abandon himself to his associations. That gives the viewer a strong sense of emptiness, rather than the manipulative approach of Hollywood productions. Can you introduce our readers to your vision of time in cinema? I believe that any film is shaped by a conjunction of different elements, which trigger in the viewer channels of associations and experiences. Using time, the director can play with the idea that the film represents or symbolizes.
experimenting with a timing perspective, and resolved to use a synthesis of photographs for the film. I chose to work with stop frame animation to be in control of the timing and story telling, unfolding the narrative of the film as it developed, and to emphasize the emotional content in the sequences.
We live in a hectic world that has shaped us at such speed that compromises our capacity of observation; this is tremendously present in the film industry. When a film deprives the viewer with a fast pace of storytelling, editing, etc, then the viewer loses the opportunity to relate and judge what the director intends to say, and is carried away with the â€˜actionâ€™. Personally I believe that by allowing time to exist within the elements of a film, the viewer can participate and gain a higher experience of the moving picture, giving a better understanding of the story, images and sound. Time allows the elements composing a film to breathe. What was the reasoning behind shooting in a desaturated palette?
Broken Compass is a story which can take place anywhere at any time, it can be recent or it can be really old. There are not many associations of time and space in the soundtrack or the visuals because I was looking for a feeling of atemporality.
has a high contrast effect, resembling the tradition of comic trips in their black and white shades. Are you as interested in the camera as you are in the screenplay or the actors?
Black and white format has the quality of being both real and abstract, giving what is necessary for a film like this to exist. The film
Yes, the camera is my intrinsic medium relating to the image. Whether still or moving, I have a subconscious approach with camera in
of creating a film prevails over many factors, mainly financial. This reminds me of the beauty of the film “ Man with the movie camera”. This personal approach is more popular today than ever. Stylistically, your film owes more to the surreal fantasy world of Jean Cocteau than to the expressionism of Arrabal's cinema. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work? Naturally I am drawn to eastern European cinema. Their way to observe and the passing of time is something that has always enchanted me. It is hard to think about directors who have influenced me, so I would rather describe the work of directors who I admire. Andrei Tarkovsky, for the power of observation and simplicity of his films. I admire the way that he relates his vision to time, history and poetry, his view to electronic music and his approach to author cinema. The work of David Lynch is surreal and rich in audiovisual realms, the loss of conventional storytelling is something that has always been amazing to me. Satyajit Ray’s excellent Apu Trilogy portrays life in Bangladesh working with an amateur crew, limited budgets and mixing documentary with feature film, creating a compelling view of the country and its people, which is loaded with emotion and reality. Thanks for sharing your time, Enrique, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Enrique Verdugo? Have you a particular film in mind?
hand, developed after many years of experience. The camera is a natural extension of my person, and I don’t need to think that much about it as a result. I understand how it works and behaves, which allows me more freedom to focus on the actors, the story and locations etc. I think that guerrilla filmmaking has its own signature style and comes with the proliferation of technology where the necessity
I am researching and developing ideas for a film that explores ecological issues, which are emerging in both the African and South American continents. There exists a contradiction amongst international communities who are developing a massive environmental alternative in the Sahara desert, whilst ignoring rainforest devastation in South America. I want to portray these contradictions in an experimental documentary.
Dana Berman An artist's statement
Consciousness of the apparatus and the cultural conditions of the medium, along with an awareness of the position of the author, is fundamental to
anything I make, along with attempting to make those conditions transparent. These days Iâ€™m primarily interested in stillness as a filmmaker and the inescapable fact of movement as a sculptorâ€”that thereâ€™s no such thing as permanence or the fixed or
Duff motionlessness. I’d prefer to be still, honestly, but my mother accuses me of running all the time and always moving too fast. I like animals, such as tarantulas and cats, who can both sit stone-still for hours and dart away suddenly. I wonder how long it takes to look, that is, to see something. I like
seeing movies in theaters to experience the body in time in relation to looking, and in relation to others looking. I like watching films where there’s little movement—I’m surprised by the volume of emotion in stillness. Dana Berman Duff
An interview with
Dana Berman Duff You are not only a video artist, you are a multidisciplinary artist working with sculpture too. In your personal statement, you say: "I experience film as a 3-D dimensional medium that is very related to sculpture". Could you better introduce our readers to this peculiar vision? In particular, in what manner your sculpture influences your video art? I work in both film and video and each operates in a different way and are both related to sculpture in different ways. But my comment that film is a 3-dimensional medium works for both: moving pictures are made in space and move around in space and we are “in” that space when watching video or film. It’s not a flat medium with a fixed point of view—typically. There’s an additional way that film is dimensional, where video is not: handling rolls of plastic strip covered with little pictures is a hugely tactile experience. I thought while editing one of the first 16mm films I made after many years of primarily shooting video, “This is a lot like sculpture—so material… and so expensive.” Your works are marked by a strong effort to destabilize language through the use of refined cinematography. How did you get started in filmmaking? I started shooting Super-8 film when I was a sophomore in high school. I was lucky that there happened to be a class offered by a fresh-out-of-college teacher who hooked up with a program at the local art museum. It was pretty standard narrative-style storytelling with super-8 cameras. Later I went to grad school at Cal Arts—not in the Film School but in Fine Arts—and studied with John Baldessari, Michael Asher, Barbara Kruger and a number of other amazing artists, including Morgan Fisher. He taught a seminar on experimental film that opened my eyes. I have very little technical training in making films or video and learned by trial and error, and by taking a class here or tutorial there.
As far as destabilizing language, I think you’re making reference to the seemingly absent narrative in “Catalogue.” It only pretends to be a non-narrative film—and I thought it was when I made it. But the dramatic arc revealed itself when I viewed it with an audience and they gasped at a climax and giggled in what might be a denouement. I thought this was a great joke on me! Another way to look at it is that “Catalogue” isn’t structured according to any cinematic convention or Structural meter. While there’s no overt point of view, the film’s timing is structured according to my interest and my desire—it is me who’s looking at the catalogue, not merely demonstrating it. I’m not calculating the seconds on a pointed finger making a statement about commodity. I cut when my desire or interest has waned and move on to the next image. Why have you used 16mm footage for this project? There is a particular reason linked to the ephemeral qualities of this rare format today? The source material for the film “Catalogue” is a gigantic retail catalogue that’s dropped on doorsteps all over the US once a year. It’s stocked with mid-priced designer furniture and objects, the designs ripped off from the original high-end manufacturers and famous designers. The objects are manufactured in cheaper materials and in labor-cheap countries. This company doesn’t sell the least expensive mid- century chair you can buy (there’s an Ikea version and a Wal-Mart version of the Danish designer Arne Jacobson’s Series 7 chair from 1955), so this company’s goods still have a certain status quotient— despite the fact that almost everything in the catalogue is a stolen design. I buy these chairs to make sculpture and to use in my home. When I was paging through the gorgeous photographs I noticed that the images were de-saturated to resemble stills from film noir movies. Since these pictures already looked like movies, I thought the only thing missing was for them to move. So I decided to turn them into an actual film. In effect, I set out to make the original for the catalogue’s copy. I cast the objects in a movie as an unfolding pageant of products experienced in time by simply looking at one after another. Of course, I wasn’t looking at beautiful objects, but the heavily-styled representation of each thing as it was fixed in the photograph. There are multiple of layers of representation or “copying” in the film. An integral part of
Dana Berman Duff
watching “Catalogue” is taking in the beauty of the black and white film. I realized while making this piece the difference between film and video: in video we look at moving pictures, but in film it’s the picture that’s moving—you can see the grain in every frame; the image is alive and vibrating. In your statement you say "The catalogue presents de-‐saturated photographs of staged rooms shot and printed to resemble sets for film-‐noir era movies, hypothetically increasing their desirability". This concept has a huge importance in your artistic research as well as in your video making. Could you comment it? In the catalogue of “Catalogue” a strategy of resemblance is what sells products. For this particular company it’s profitable to activate nostalgia, a type of longing, not for a time actually lived but for a type of life depicted in movies of another generation—which is emblematized by black and white film. The choice of the subject for this work remind us of Jan Svankmajer's films. What draws you to a particular subject? You may be thinking of the idea of “antique” that black and white film connotes, and Svankmajer (and especially his admirers, the Quay Brothers) tends to use antique objects in his animated work. But there’s little similarity in my intentions to Svankmajer’s. I’m not especially interested in creating fantasy worlds—I’d rather expose them. In “Catalogue” I’m interested in getting the film experience closer to home: real things in real time with an awareness of my own watching.
The catalogue is real, even though what it represents is not. Black and white film or photography gives the artist an opportunity to distance from the subject, to reduce the information, so the propensity for the viewer to identify with the subject is stalled or prevented. In “Catalogue” we are aware, or at least reminded, that we’re looking at a picture most of the time. I guess it’s a bit of a tease, since the sensuality of the black and white film can be especially engrossing. What's next for Dana Berman Duff? Are there any film projects on the horizon? I’m working on making a film for and directing a collaborative theater project of live performance and projection with the playwright and poet Sissy Boyd. A former dancer now in her seventies, Boyd is experiencing the failure of her short-term memory, which is making economic survival problematic but which is also surprisingly freeing to her creativity. Giving in to her forgetfulness of certain words, in particular, frees her to find new words and areas of consciousness and expression—she says she finds that her loss of memory heightens her sense of presence. The structure of the theater piece will foreground the relationships of body and memory, forgetfulness and freedom, presence and absence, reality and representation in a series of repetitions and loops in an effort to create an authentic experience of failing or lost memory for the audience.
Nancy Wyllie An artist's statement An old mattress dumped on a busy highway has been anonymously spray painted with a seemingly familiar 3 word phrase that serves as an exploration of syntax. Syntax, generally based on the constituent structure of sentences complete with subject, verb and object has been subverted in this video short titled NOTHING, in ways that are at once humorous and filled with 21st century angst.
A still from NOTHING
An interview with
Nancy Wyllie "We know that underneath the displayed image there is another -one more faithful to reality. An underneath this second there is a third one, an a fourth under the previous one. All the way to the true image of that reality, absolute, mysterious, that nobody will see. Or all the way to the dissolution of reality. Abstract cinema, therefore, would make sense. ". While it is certainly a cliché to open with a quote, it seems appropriate here as perhaps no sentence better captures the experience of NOTHING better than Michelangelo Antonioni's words. From the first time we watched Nancy Wyllie's video, we were impressed with her semiotic approach to filmmaking, conveying a purely subjective, yet modernist, sensibility where the form conveys its meaning directly. We are honored to present Nancy Wyllie for this year's Videofocus Edition. Nancy, how did you get started in experimental cinema? Trained as a painter, I immersed myself in super-realism for over 25 years. My work featured anthropomorphized taxidermy subjects engaged in business deals and after hour trysts that are expressions of the playful and the clandestine. These paintings were made from photographs of elaborate tableaux that involved the careful tailoring of convincing costumes and settings. I peeled back as many layers of reality as my observational and technical skills would allow to ensure that my subject matter belies its artifice. By the end of the 1980’s, my paintings became increasingly narrative as my characters perpetually donned new personae and altered their agenda. In the early 90’s my work had become photobased with an element of cinematic action that grew out of an impatience with the static moment. I began to build architectural housings around large scale C-prints of abandoned building interiors in order to push the two dimensionality traditionally associated
with photography resulting in a new variation on tableaux. It was at this juncture that I made the decision to study film at NYU. During the 1980’s, we were still cutting film, unaware that we would soon have the means to realize our vision in binary code on our desktops. While at NYU, I learned about traditional film theory as we dissected the structure many of great films including The Godfather with its brilliant use of parallel action and slow disclosure, two principles I would later explore and redefine in my own work. By the early 1990’s I was hired to teach art and digital media at the Community College of Rhode Island. In 2002, as the genre of video art in the digital age continued to evolve and cement its place in college curriculums throughout the US, I was sent back to Rhode Island School of Design to retrain in Final Cut Pro. It was at RISD that I entered fully into the realm of experimental cinema. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for NOTHING? There came a point in my creative life in the early 90’s when I slowly let go of the careful orchestration of technique and tableaux and allowed myself to widen my gaze beyond the confines of the studio. I began to consciously embrace chance and accident in the creative process. One instance of this surrender was the sight, while driving down a country road, of a large sheet of packaging material blowing around in blustery winter winds. I photographed the many iterations this urban detritus went through from body bag to a configuration of folds and form reminiscent of The Lady of the Lake in Arthurian Legend; a bride ; the Virgin Mary. The images that came out of this encounter took me to Russia in 2000 for the 3rd International Festival of Experimental and Performing Art. It was at Menage Central Exhibition Hall in St. Petersburg where I left a journal for visitors to leave anonymous written accounts of their own extraordinary sightings, that the power of art making as collaboration became clear for the first time. While on a routine errand in 2011 I noticed a discarded mattress leaning against a guardrail in the distance. I observed crudely spray painted words had bled into the fibers of this battered mattress. The words ‘’Nothing Really Mattress’ slowly came into focus. Who had the
impulse to engage passersby in such provocative wordplay? I inquired about the origin of the mattress at nearby businesses without success. Merchants suspected the handiwork of area teens. I rushed home for my camera, hoping that this amazing find would be there upon my return. Another collaboration had begun but with whom? Was this the creation of someone in existential crisis, a jokester or both? Not knowing the identity or the true intent of the author of this wordplay, I wanted to ensure that every clip would offer the opportunity for the viewer to experience these three words on a mattress as an opportunity to contemplate his/her own values and belief systems. While this surreal, often humorous piece overtly plays with the idiosyncrasy of language, it also plays with a structuralist idea of cinema. As Roland Barthes says, "the goal of literary work is to make the reader no longer a consumer, but a producer of the text". In your video you apply this idea to cinema pushing the boundaries of language, like in the early film of Alain Robbe-Grillet. Could you comment this fundamental aspect of your work? As we acquire language through reading and writing, we all learn that syntax is defined as the constituent structure of a sentence with required subject, verb and object. In NOTHING, syntax has been subverted in ways that are at once humorous and filled with 21st century angst. While shooting the words on the mattress I wanted to engage the viewer by constantly shifting the focus. I began by isolating a single word, in whole or in part. In order to transition from “Nothing real’ to Nothing really,’ the viewer must straddle both the profound and the inane. Ambiguity and the oscillation of meaning in word play is the cornerstone of this experimental short. Towards the end In NOTHING, a carefree young man in a Corvette drives by as I am filming, misreads the words, looks briefly into the camera and, while still in motion, repeats a complete sentence, ‘Nothing Really Matters.’ The last few moments of NOTHINGculminate in a triumphant crescendo of sound that contrasts with a long shot of the mattress and its upended declaration about the nature of the
A still from NOTHING
world posed by a deviation from the rules of syntax Numerous voices from different sensibilities and languages participate in the semantic organization of your film. NOTHING contains the seed of an attempt to set up new relations between sign and meanings. In the Director's statement you mention Samuel Beckett, Camus, Sartre. There is very much in keeping with Beckett 's approach to literature and theatre, just think of four of his late plays: Not I (1972), That Time (1976), Footfalls (1976), and Catastrophe (1982), where syntax is torqued to disrupt our habits of reading. Can you describe your encounter
with the literature that inspired much of your film? Marcel Proust’ exploration of our conscious experience as the flow of a stream or what William James termed ‘stream of consciousness or subjective life’ has long been a source of inspiration. Researchers in the field of neuroscience have determined that we actually perceive the world in rhythmic pulses and even discrete chunks rather than a continuous flow. Through extensive research at the University of California at Irvine, it has come to light that ‘stream of consciousness’ is an illusion; experience is not continuous but quantized. In making NOTHING, I have embraced both Proust and neuroscience. What
continues to interest me is that Proust remains, above all, a theorist of time and space. While Prousts’ unrelenting loneliness; his otherness as a Jew, a homosexual and an artist became the grammar of his life and work, I am reminded of the sighting of the aviator in ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ who is perceived by the narrator as a symbol of the artist who can conquer time and space. For Proust a work of art can recapture the lost and save it from destruction. In the end art triumphs over the destructive power of time. The lone mattress in NOTHING is encoded with words that alternately pose philosophical questions about human existence in an indifferent world while asserting its objecthood in a face off with all of nature thus
A still from NOTHING
fulfilling a definition of art that takes the experiences of life and transforms them in ways that show understanding and deep inquiry. I share with Proust a fascination with attempting to reconcile the absurd, the unknowable and in the process finding a road to the transcendent. Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project? What draws you to a particular subject? What fuels my creative process may be anything that draws my attention from an ad that references Las Meninas in a Madrid airport to cautionary graffiti on a dumpster. Found objects remain a source of inspiration
and even roadkill. I have a love for animals that knows no bounds. While out walking, I often see forms in the distance on the side of the road that I pray will not be one of the rabbits or squirrels that delight me year round with their antics. The relief that I feel when I discover that I have instead run across a large piece of kraft paper rather than a deer is fodder for a film about the problems associated with perceptual knowledge or negation that occurs in concrete experience as a correction of error or cancellation of a previous misperception. Thereâ€™s a subtle irony in your video art â€“ a distinctive feature of your filmmaking. Your sensibility seems to be closer to Jean
Although NOTHING came together quite quickly thanks to a rare find left behind by a very special individual, my basic approach to filmmaking is to shoot footage in a variety of settings, sometimes over a period of years and then make the film once I see connections. I recently completed an experimental short titled REENACTMENTS that opens with footage of my side door entry, what is actually a security breach, into Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC made possible by a crew member from PBS in 2010. At the time I had no idea how I would make use of this rather uninspired footage or close ups of street signs on Pennsylvania Avenue that read Evacuation Route. Over the course of the next four years, I would film a parade in New England celebrating American Independence from the British featuring men and women in period dress shooting bayonets into the air as well as the voice of a State Police Commander giving faculty members at the college where I teach active shooter training. This Spring, I filmed a student of mine who describes her experience of living through the massacre at Sandy Hook School. It was only after filming this student that I discovered all this footage adds up to an experimental exploration of the epidemic of American gun violence. From a visual point, the use of extreme close-ups and details is a topos of your cinematographic style. How did you develop your visual style?
Luc Godards playful use of language – A playful yet utterly subversive sensibility. Can you better introduce our readers to this aspect of your cinema ? Godard once said that a film should have a beginning, a middle and an end but not necessarily in that order. In describing his approach, he explained to an interviewer at Cannes in 2014, that his ideas come very gradually. There is no screenplay in the beginning. The screenplay comes out not only after the shooting but after the editing and then the words come to summarize what has been created.
NOTHING begins with an unrelenting abstracted close up of the metallic underside of a nearby box spring into which an August breeze has breathed life. A rhythmic musical beat is synched to this heartbeat. As in all my experimental cinema, I refuse to provide any clear context early on… no visual clues as to what will transpire….not even a title. It is important to me that my films begin by raising questions about time, place and even genre. My orientation to theories about composition is informed more by the history of painting than the history of film. As a young art student, I admired paintings that are dense in composition, with little negative space. Rubens ‘Oil Sketch for High Altarpiece, St Bavo, Ghent’ is an example of a work of art in which much is going on outside the picture plane. There is no respite from the dense drama Rubens has achieved. Painter Marilyn Minter, a 21st century master of the unrelenting close up has upped the ante.
Rubens ‘Oil Sketch for High Altarpiece’ 1611-12
How is the viewer to read the carnal state of her heavily made up urban females immersed in a dark glamour that marries the beautiful and the grotesque? Are they enjoying what is happening to them or are they enduring pain and humiliation? Are they actually males? The courage with which Minter explores the underbelly of American life inspires me on every level as a filmmaker. Minter has recently moved into video with stunning results. You are currently a Professor of Art at the Community College of Rhode Island. As an artist, how important do you think it is to teach what you practice? It is very important that I share with my students the particular aesthetic sensibilities that I have cultivated even if they deviate from their current ideas about art and film. In 2012, Video Art was incorporated into the Art Department Curriculum. I began to teach this course not knowing if I could get students up to speed with regard to the history and scope of this medium before asking them to
make the own work. Prominent video artists including Tony Oursler, Bill Viola, Mary Lucier, Shirin Neshat, Matthias Muller, as many as time will allow, are introduced. This course has been a tremendous challenge as many young people see this medium in the context of the music video. Most are shocked to learn that this genre dates back to the 1960’s. However, the work that has come out of my classes has often been quite sophisticated in concept and execution. Unlike myself, young people today are digital natives and bring a host of skills into the classroom. My job is to help them see the moving image as a form of artistic expression that must transcend the commercial and formulaic or, at the very least, transform these things. What do you think about the contemporary American cinema scene, from an experimental filmmaker's point of view? When asked about his impressions of America in 1969, Antonioni states in ‘The Architecture of Vision’** he listed waste, innocence,
Marilyn Minter ‘Crystal Swallow’ 2006
vastness and poverty. I would agree, with one exception. Whatever was left of our innocence was lost on 9.11. While the corporate model that drives Hollywood continues to embrace the formulaic while eschewing narrative complexity, cultural specificity or ambiguity, I also think that Americans hunger for any form of escapism that they can find. Mainstream cinema has been overrun in the past few years by movies based on comic books. Marvels ‘Ant-Man’ will be released in coming weeks. It is not just the domestic market but the foreign market in which action adventure, science fiction fantasy and animation travel best and contribute to a lack of turnover in ideas and talent. American cinema is and remains a numbers game. Movies are our third largest export. This is not to say that good films are not being made. In 2012, Robert Redford hosted Sundance London with the objective of bringing the best of American cinema to reflect the diversity of voices not seen very often in our cultural exports.
‘Pink Pedi’ 2010 Enamel on Aluminum Enamel on Aluminum
The good news with regard to Independent Cinema both in the US and abroad is that we are experiencing a huge reshuffling of power through the use of non traditional distribution channels or platforms such as Internet distributors Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, and Google. Crowd funding has already supported the creation of many films like Veronica Mars and some filmmakers are actually electing to give their films away for free in order to build up a fan base and gain momentum. The beauty in all this is that digital technology has made it possible to accomplish much more with far less. Think of the stunning HD footage than can be captured with an affordable DSLR. This is an art form that is in greater transition than ever before in terms of production, distribution and exhibition and that is truly exciting for filmmakers the world over. *(University of Chicago Press 1996) Thanks for sharing your time, Nancy, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker
career. What's next for Nancy Wyllie? Have you a particular film in mind? I have been blessed with another find. In May, while heading to the grocery store in heavy rains, I passed by the very same spot where
the mattress was left. Immersed in a foot of oil blackened water, I noticed a bright yellow WET FLOOR cone used by area businesses. I spent the afternoon filming this cone wondering, once again, with whom I was collaborating.
Once done filming, I spotted another WET FLOOR cone that had been deposited nearby and I decided to take this one home in order to more carefully capture the text and icons on its surface.
I am using a macro lens to capture full screen sections of graphics that are reminiscent of both ancient and modern symbol systems.
Rrose Present An artist's statement A journey through sound and image processing refers to filmic imagery of the cultural construction of Europe. Imageries that contrast with the "visual" content of moving images
which are extracted from the virtual network of those crossing the borders of Europe "without permission" (2014 Melilla). In turn, such images are interfered with by visual noise from a "TVâ€? without broadcast. As a found footage piece I recompose the image no
longer with the "matter" of the film, but with pixels of the media that mediate us. Experimenting with the plasticity of the rhythmic interferences that textualize the image. Transforming the "objective" media looks on "subjective" author looks that ironically play
with visual and audible "noise" to deconstruct the memory dictates of the informational present. Rrose Present
An interview with
Rrose Present STIGMART10 Team Rrose Present's ODE Europe I focuses on the tensions between physical space, the geopolitical space and virtual media network in the post-modern age. In order to reflect on and represent the shifting relationship between these three elements aim is to extend the boundaries of human perception or to be more precise, to manipulate it and release it from its most primitive parameters in its search for physiological sensations. Her sense of juxaposition give her films a playful yet utterly subversive sensibility. We are glad to present Rrose Present for this year's Videofocus Edition.
I’d like to begin by thanking Videofocus for having selected this particular piece, which is very dear to me, and I’d also like to thank Jordi Costa, whose support and understanding can be seen in the brief review he wrote about the piece (included below). The story behind Jordi’s text may go some way towards explaining my style of work or film “spirit”. At the end of 2014 I attended a course on Outsider Cinema run by the CCCB (Barcelona’s Centre for Contemporary Culture) and directed by Jordi Costa, film critic and cultural manager. In the last session of the course, the participants were encouraged to submit their own work for discussion and debate. I was the last participant to present, and as I was getting ready to show my film the organizers of the event informed us that the allocated time had run out and therefore there could be no further projections. As a result, I approached Jordi directly to show him my work on my tablet upon leaving the centre, just outside the doors of that “designated place for art and cinema”. A great way to end a workshop on Outsider Cinema, isn't? “ODE Europe by Rrose Present In a present day drugged up by the incessant white noise of mass communication, the image hunter’s secret mission becomes that of rescuing and reactivating those images that appeal to a collective feeling of guilt: supplying meaning to this media wallpaper, digging through calming
reference points, snow and other interferences with our vision. This is Rrose Present’s ODE Europe’s achievement: it rips away the veil that stops us from seeing, behind a series of cut-out figures on a landscape, the proof that, on this side of the border of a First World entrenched in fear, it is us, probably, who are dead.” Jordi Costa (film critic and cultural manager) Rrose, how did you get started in experimental cinema? They say that “in every catastrophe there’s a hidden gift we must learn to unwrap”. I’ve been using this quote, from a philosopher whose name I’ve forgotten, in presentations when I’m asked to talk about my career, as I find it very useful in illustrating how I began working in the field of moving images. My beginnings are undoubtedly the result of various failures and catastrophes, in which I’ve had to learn to “see” the hidden opportunities within. I studied Design, graduated in Fine Arts and went on to do an MA in Philosophy and Contemporary Art. I was told that I was too “arty” to be a designer, that I “thought too much” to be an artist and that my writing was “uneven” and “too visual” to be a thinker/philosopher. What career could I look forward to, if not to use the rhythmic plasticity of images to communicate original thoughts, the results of my relationship with many different artistic disciplines and schools of thought? Chronologically speaking, it was thanks to a specific event that I started working in this field, an “accident” caused by Barcelona’s aggressive property speculation. One night, while I was sleeping, I heard a strange explosion which made six nearby building tremble and, consequently, I lost my entire home/workshop in a fire. This was in 2000 and I was one week away from the opening of my exhibition “Cartographies of emptiness” in a local gallery. The show consisted of a series of photographs, sculptures and “moebius strips” of an unfinished film. It was a large project based on a photograph of my naked body in a foetal position, from which I had created various sculptural objects from the empty parts of the body, re-photographing them in different landscapes. Unfortunately (or not), the exhibition was cancelled. With no home nor physical space in which to show my work, I applied for a grant to study image and sound at the UPV school in Bilbao, where I learned about video editing, animation, sound, lighting and… With an interest in emptiness and silence, I went on to create some sound projects on the mechanical and electronic “noises” of “silences” (or the impossibility thereof) in
which I combined Cage’s concepts of silence with Russolo’s ideas of noise. At the same time, I spent a year obsessively creating many different versions of those “cartographies of emptiness”, but this time de-localizing them and using different abstract techniques (animation, video editing, etc.) until I ended up with my first audiovisual work. So in way, having an “audiovisual project” had saved my life, filling at the same time my need to have a “life project”...
The materic and painterly qualities of your film, combined with a peculiar use of found footage reveals your effort to get under the skin of the cinema, exploring the blurry boundaries between personal memory and
collective memory. Can you introduce our readers to this aspect of your work? I suppose that in the “plastic, painterly qualities” of my recent work there’s something of the work of pioneers of North-American experimental cinema. They, too, had trained their eyes within the spheres of the plastic arts (painting, sculpture, collage, etc.), which is also where found footage (used as an expanded collage of moving light) comes from. In Brakhage’s case, for example, found footage is used irreverently, and at times his images are treated as pure paintings, as with his hand-painted films; in the case of Bruce Conner, found footage is passed through a “critical” deconstruction of media discourse, creating new film subjectivities far removed from Hollywood’s “visual” stereotypes and its narrative
standards. ODE Europe could be placed somewhere in between these two references of found footage, aesthetic recreation and critical deconstruction. My starting points are the different “sounds” of of the images in mass media (responsible for mediating information on the web) as raw “material” for the material recreation in the construction of discourse. The image is the skin of an emotion which mixes internal images with those of the external world in a “subjective” digestion of itself. ODE is also a Homage to the fascinating cinema of Patrick Bokanowski. What's the influence of the visionary filmmaker on your artistic vision?
The first time I saw Bokanowski’s work there was an instant connection — I fell in love with his films and his ability to introduce the viewer to completely new worlds, at times dark (“L’Ange”), and at times coming from another period (“La Plage”), where landscapes, silhouettes, water and images deconstruct in hypnotic rhythmic abstractions of reality, all complemented by an excellent score composed by his wife Michèle Bokanowski . His films have a strangely compelling effect on me, they make me want to leap into them. They’re like an “oasis” in the sea of information of our obscene “objective” reality, infected by enslaving visual stereotypes, within contemporary regimes that trade in all manner of thinking, from the worlds of cinema, art, social media… Recovering the imagery that film-makers such as Bokanowski have left us is a gift for any sensitive
soul, like hopeful visions of a sensitive “revolution” to fight the “dictatorship of reality” that’s made the world a small place of stolen internet dreams. Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project? I think that the way I begin any project is through a mix of reflection and impulsivity, reflection and pulsion. Sometimes I start from a personal story, or some public event that I’ve become aware of and that resonates with me, or from an opinion I’ve heard about art or about life… I might use cultural codes as my starting point, or I might even begin from an intuitive experimentation as a baseline from which to “feel”, in order to banish all this cultural intoxication in which language sophisms and technical terms kill any attempt at “real” or mysterious expression, meaning or message. In the case of “Miraclehouses” I began with a personal experience that allowed me to “put myself in someone else’s shoes” — in this work, language is the result of the need to express outrage towards the housing industry, as in the opening up of language in Heidegger or the metaphor of Wittgenstein, who compares language to a ladder that must be taken down once one’s destination (communication) is reached. When the opening up of the path becomes convention = language, it can be used to “dress up” opposite intentions and exploit the miseries of others for cultural gain. Other works, such as “Landscape_1, Landscape_2.0” , are born from pre-established concepts that require images in order to be represented. On other occasions, it’s the images themselves that “come to me” to tell me things, as in “Life or burning shadows”, where I found myself dancing with my own shadow and all the symbolism that entails. “Infraleve” and “Thinking with my hands” (or “Specific Dictionary of Critical Praxis”) was the result of critical research which responded ironically to the sentences of texts on art reception. It consists of a series of 36 small object-metaphors which acquire meaning through touch. The metaphors are resolved via a
purposefully “atemporal” image that eschews the usual modus operandi of art, so as to deanaesthetise our retinas from the usual customs and habits of contemporary art. Like Hollywood for cultural norms, these customs and habits dictate what should be said, when it should be said and how it should be said in order to reach the transnational cultural tourism industry. In my latest projects I start from images of the present to talk about the present using language from the present. ODE Europe is the work in which I’ve felt most fluid during its own process. It comes from a pulse, possessed by the “emotional” engine of an uncertainty, of an intuition that’s looking for how to express itself without losing track, without thinking too much to avoid putting at risk all the unconscious baggage, and not just conscious choices. So I “listened” to all the images that went through my mind, everything I could think of while I was editing. And as I finished I could “see” where the impulse had taken me, guiding me along this material, conceptual adventure where I found myself using Bokanowski’s subjective vision as a reference point. The concept of ready-made is fundamental in your video practice. What's the future of found-footage art in your opinion? What will be the influence of platform like vimeo and youtube? In Duchamp’s ready-mades, objects’ meanings are re-defined according to their spatial context, in the same way that words mean different things depending on their location in a sentence. In a piece of found footage we could create conflicting or unexpected meaning according to the spacetime that the images occupy within the montage. As Harun Farocki would say, meaning is created in the “editing isle”. With the ease with which we can now find any image, on any topic, at any time, the creation of “meaning” becomes difficult in our contemporary “copy-and-paste” culture; meaning requires us to process and reflect on our images in the editing isle of our own emotions, to offer a "digested" product, not only a "copied and pasted" meanings that other creators have been given to those founded images or not..
For images to have “meaning” they must have “felt” as living beings. This is the only possible “revolution”, that “resistance” to life that Antoni Negri talked about, “conscious” that they’ve defeated the current systems of power where images are vehicles for this new regime that writes new lifeless “ways of life” (new language) on our unconscious consciousness. They’re clones of themselves and they impose a cloned image/thought in which we all live. Don’t be afraid to think and feel for yourselves! In Ode you highlight the discrepancy between the cultural construction of Europe and its real face. Can you better introduce our readers to this concept?
We all know by now the socio-economic and cultural structures upon which “our” Europe rests, perhaps the most important of which is colonialism. We are now aware of the ethnocentrism we’ve demonstrated by imposing our own perspective on the rest of the world. We now know that the “cultural other” is a human being who cannot be desiccated and placed in a museum and seen as an “exotic”, “savage” creature, and charge for the privilege. We know that they simply belong to another culture, as dignified as our own. We know about image ethics when it comes to using others for one’s own benefit. Images are vehicles for information, but as such they lose their origin and their body, causing a loss of empathy with others. Europe, however, is key in this process, as it possesses the poison and/or the cure to defeat our
global killer economies and re-activate our revised humanist legacy.
collective subconscious, symbols of such transcendent mysteries as life and death in the history of human representation.
Your art is rich of references. We have previously mentioned Duchamp, however your visual imagery seems to be closer to Bill Viola’s (or Bruce Conner’s) cinematography. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? Duchamp was the first “initiator of discursive practices”, if we see the author as operating in the shadow of Michel Foucault’s reflections on authorship. I learned to recognise “all the authors inside me”, with the humility of knowing that everything I’ve seen, read and experienced has influenced my vision, whether consciously or not, not to mention all the archetypical images of a
And as there is no light without shadow, I can recognise in me the great influence exerted by those “Duchampian discursive practices” and at thesame time by the pulses that surprise and excite my “modest” reason, and I find myself with the transcendent questions of our existence in the same way that Bill Viola and many other others have … Currently I find myself moving towards the sensibilities of the experimental film image, where the contemplation of the movement of those leaves, after the lunch filmed by the Lumières (as Bresson would say), has the power to make the invisible wind visible..
Human experience is often the starting point of your filmmaking. Exploring found footage, you conceive video as an anthropological tool to explore thecomplex mechanisms of contemporarysociety. What draws you to a particular subject? In the contradiction between thought and being, the only thing left is to “breathe” in order to re-position the body as a (political) vehicle of experience and knowledge, like a “revolution of bodies” (Franco Berardi) escaping the data that turns beings into statistics. Statistics with which companies trade our data, our represented lives. Inside any online representation is the atom of this new encoded language that defines us, like a new transnational “house of being” (how Heidegger sees language) in which no being lives, but which is designed for machines to communicate to each other in. Hence that method of capturing moving images, paving the way for their democratization, and offering a new “vision” of the world by opening our imagination with the “objective” that the “optical subconscious” allowed. It’s become a “machine consciousness” which controls the world’s “operative” images, where we are the “objective” as a flux that feeds the economy. Thanks for sharing your time, Rrose, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Rrose Present? Have you a particular film in mind?
Of course, in fact I always have several projects at the same time, in different stages of production. One of my projects involves the format of series, where I “interpret” the “camera-world” which ODE Europe forms part of, to re-subjectivize the “objective” vision of the information network, where we live in representation, representing ourselves constantly. I’m currently working on the simultaneity of time as a narrative form of contemporary visibility, with a new editing technique (which I shall name at a later date) as a way of creating meaning, ethics being a key idea in the search for materiality in images.
Delphine Hsini An artist's statement
Like a lonley island of amnesia, each of us circles around the different selves, dancing endlessly, twirling the gorgeous and ethereal waltz.. Deep shadows of BLACK slowly burning its flame, while WHITE still stay in that silent sitting amidst a imaginary oceanic waves. Matter as substance, form as phantom, death-rebirth/reality-sureality of dubious humanity through a microscopic perspective. Gradually erasing or gently
finding the deepest memories buried in the body, ghost dreams, spirit elves, nature life cycles thus appear one by one through familiar and unrecognizable-nameless songs, through fragments of storytelling, through movements to dance. The creative work belong to â€œMICRO: Homeland_Dreambodyâ€? series. The basis of developing work include three parts: Workshops Shooting videos Live Performance & exhibition The three part echoes the different timeline (past-presentfuture) of events and the invisible stories told circling infinitely as a mobius stripe.
Mei Delphine Mei, Interdisciplinary artist and performer. Born in a small Pacific Asiatic island named Taiwan, and soon drifted away with the Atlantic wind. Delphine has practiced in New York, San Francisco,Asiatic lands, Europe, China, and Taiwan. BFA/BA in Art History and Arts at University of Illinois in the United States, and Advance Diploma in Physical Theatre In Arts in Helsinki, Finland. Selected activity: Cite American-Foundation (Paris, France), 2012 Soho In Ottakring Biennial, 2011-2011 guest artist lecturer for new media
department in Linz Art University, Austria, 2013 Arte Creative Program selection, 2014 Research Project in Southeast Asia, live at Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, talk-work collected in Independent Archive and Resource Center Singapore. Delphine's work centers around identity shifts and travel/migration/cultural transition-transfer, and spirituality. She is now based in Taiwan.
An interview with
Delphine Hsini Mei Delphine Hsini Mei's visionary work ISLE 4224 reveals a remarkable effort to extend the boundaries of human perception or to be more precise, to manipulate it and release it from its most primitive parameters in its search for physiological sensations. Delphine, how did you come up with the idea for this work? It's a great question you ask to me and I’ll try my best to give some ideas. As many of my works come from pieces of observations and direct experiences from daily life, so does this one. This is essentially a lyrical poetic take on biographical stories. I have wanted to make something about my native land Taiwan after a long absence since youth of over 10 years. Coming back here, surely I can still recognize everything, but what I was used to be familiar with as a child can no longer be found and it felt very foreign to me. Furthermore, after so many years not speaking my native tongue, I could only speak it in a cryptic way. At that moment I felt as if being castrated in a surreal manner. I asked then, “How can this be? I am in my own country, amongst my people, who look the same as I am, how can this be?” So I felt alone among my own land. I felt the huge differences in every aspect. Although I wanted to mingle but felt somewhat apprehensive about it. This made me reflect on my own identity, as well as the country’s identity as a whole. I think Taiwan, the collective, and me, the individual, share a similar feeling: trying to be with the world, trying hard to connect internationally and to reach outwards, but at the same time struggling with maintaining its own unique position, an island of its own in the vast Pacific Ocean. Water is a significant motif in this work: eg, womb, fluidity of island people, koi pond in the beginning. Thus by doing a piece or a series about this theme, I want to decode the layers of complexities while explore the hidden fragility and the socialpsychological darkness that actually lives within all of us humans. Therefore, for me it is a microcosmic
example into the universal human psyche. By using the island/myself as a departure point, I hope to "journey" into a broader human subconscious landscape. So what you said in your question about "extending the boundaries of human perception" is exactly what I wish to do. What you said in your question about "to manipulate it and release it from its most primitive parameters in its search for physiological sensations" is one reason why I have chosen this particular visual composition for this video: silent scenes and movements coupled with black screen with only narrator's voice, inviting the viewers to enter into another world of darkness like inside a womb. Once entering this place, our senses buried within our body are triggered. Especially in the modern society, when everything is emphasized on fast consumptions
and quick replacements, be it visually or otherwise. Our culture is so packed with overflow of fast information that we are constantly caught in the same acceleration, losing touch with the ability to connect deeper with ourselves in the slower, more fine-tuned and sensitive ways. Last but not least, the fundamental storytelling aspect: Storytelling and creating alternative imaginations are key elements ever present in all my works. However abstract it might appear to be, I am fundamentally curious about what stories buried within our body: collective body, social psychological body, emotional body and the spirit body, and how these aspects manifest themselves in our subconsciousness and in dreams.
As a result, it is easy to see the layers of symbolism in this video, where a almost mystic and primordial atmosphere, mixed with the delicate decadence and placed in a vivid imaginary world. Such is the idea of "doppelganger", represented here as the nameless faceless man-woman. They are but one of the double dualities living within us, e.g.: love-hate, ying-yang, man-woman. As a movement-oriented person, I have always been interested in choreographed human behaviors. My first short performance video was more fictional and told the triangle love story through complete movements and gestures, without any dialogues. I believe that in this way of working, the viewers would get naturally more space for their own imaginations about what the potential story is themselves rather than being
told what it is exactly. The concept of differences in perspectives is exciting and more interesting to me. Your art knows no boundaries between visual art, music and theatrical forms. Could you introduce our readers to the multidisciplinary nature of your art research? I am always interested in going between realms/mediums since early on. I am an art player who is curious about the flows amongst various shapes and forms. My work is very process oriented: as mentioned briefly above, normally I have a extensive research period, such as reading stuff online, going on specific sites to look, make notes and write, shoot some things here and there, then
slowly developing and weaving concepts together, and from this process one or two main themes would emerge out of an ocean of ideas Iâ€™ve gathered. A bit background information to share related to the question: I have studied first dance performance at the National institute of Arts in Taiwan, then went to do a BFA in the US. During this time in college, I was still very active in learning the performing arts, and was often on stage. After America I went to Finland to study physical theatre and Mime. So one can see at an early stage multiple art forms have already been there in my learnings. As far as music: My ears are very good. My dance teachers always commented that my body is really rhythmic, so I am sensitive to beats. But it is actually my ears are very refined and my hearing ability was probably much better than my visual ability, or letâ€™s say I hear therefore I see. In the past I have done musical theatre, spoken word theatre, worked with several Jazz bands, sung, and made music myself on the side sometimes. The music here you hear really helps to transport and express an inner psychological landscape: seemingly nostalgic and calm, not much happenings it seems, while the character walks through an old ancient place in the beginning. The music gets much tenser, denser, which reflects an inner tension, of confronting the emotions of oneself. This is when time and space start to meet as well as when they collapse together through the vehicle of music. For this particular soundtrack I have searched and waited for some years before finding the right one to fit my ideas visually. Out of all forms, there is also the literary form that I worked with since very young: poetry. Poetry is a very important element for me since youth as well as in understanding the lyrical sense in all my works, whether it be directorial or performative forms. As poetry is like a landscape painting, it always leaves lots imaginary spaces and work with the abstract elements. But poetry has a distinctive flow to it, the rhythm paints the landscape. How did you get started in experimental cinema and performance?
My interest in cinema started as a child, however my mother sent me to learn dance and piano, but I think it has always been with me. In 2006, I was in Austria, participating in a film production and also learning how to produce film festival. There I met some filmmakers and had very interesting talks with them and watched lots of good films. Later I went on to direct my first performance video in an Austrian new media festival lab. The rest is history, as they say. With performance: Literally I grew up with it as well. It has began as a little child, and I have even won local and national competitions. After doing stage performances for many years, while moving from New York to San Francisco, I started film acting. Everything was very different than stage, and I like the differences and new challenges. Although I have not performed in too many films till now, I really have fallen in love with the craft of it as well as the fact that I can actually see my own performance! Even videotaping live is not sufficient nor does it do justice to the live performance. So this aspect of cinema is very charming to me. To date, except making my own video projects, I still continue to collaborate and perform for film projects of others. Not only the experiences as a performer enhance the role as a director of making video, but it also teaches me a lot about the creative process and incubate my own cinematic eye. Performative skills are interlocked with the video: silent films style, my study of mime performance techniques, shadow plays, and others that all go into certain choices and concept-shaping of this particular work. Last but not least, I would like also to share my view about the differences in comparing the role of being a filmmaker/videomaker and that of a choreographer/theatre/dance director: the creative process for a filmmaker, as some of you might already know, needs a structure - the storyboard, the location scout, and camera arrangements, etc.; whereas that of a choreographer can be scattered, making it as the piece goes. However, as both, I appreciate what they each can offer and compliment each other: film can change the viewing speed for dance, while dance can bring out even more the poetic
and lyrical language to film’s native imaginary qualities. Actors speak often with their eyes on film while dancers use more their body to speak.
past, present and future: can you introduce our readers to this aspect of your work? Well, I will try my best.
Questions such as, if the story can really be explained in words, what’s the use of making a dance or sans-dialogue film? This was often in my mind when I tried to bridge these two mediums together. It happens to be that I am also much more interested in the world that’s different than our reality, and in films we can experience such world. It’s like taking everyone together on an adventure ride when I experiment with cinema and performance and mix-match them. The continuous transformation of body substances into ethereal fluid and mental spaces is a peculiar aspect of your art research in ISLE 4224. Even temporal boundaries are blurred in your imagery. ISLE 4224 belongs to Homeland Dreambody, a video series composed of three parts echoing
It is always hard to talk about very conceptual part of your own work, especially when it is mostly imagery- based. From my perspective, to chose having no texts largely means there is no words needed, no need to explain, but for the viewers to be connected emotionally. Our emotional world is so intricate and layered, that often times it is not enough to use words to describe them. But that’s also why we have art such as poetry and dance or film to represent them more accurately and delicately. The only section in the video with text is an excerpt from one of my older poems, read by a Polish artist in English, German, and Polish. My intention was to create a sonic landscape with the capacity to allow words to pass through their
literary meanings and be more transparent and open in interpretations, perhaps even becoming something completely different than the original. It is as if in a magician’s hat, an egg can become a dove or a bundle of flowers. How we can create the unexpected and the accidental within a frame is what’s interesting to me. So it was my intention, by intersecting different languages, for viewers not to understand fully the texts. Let me talk a bit now about “Homeland_Dreambody” series. Homeland_Dreambody started when I first studied abroad in the US as a young foreign student to explore the idea of “home”. What is home? what does home mean? Is home where the heart is or? With increasing globalization and my own migrations - traveling and living in different places in the world - more questions emerged. The psychology of dreams is something I have always been interested, from Freud to Jung, from lucid dreams to astral travel, you name it. “Dreambody” is the dreaming body or body in dreams, depending on your perspectives. Also this body is not necessarily a physical body but can be a energetic one. What is dream, and what is reality? Is our physical body the real body in home, or our energetic body the permanent one in lucid dreams? Or is there seemingly no boundaries where one naturally flow into one another constantly? Is our socalled time only an illusion, so is space itself perceived by us? Homeland_Dreambody is thus exploring the relationships between physical home/body-ashome and the metaphorical energetic spiritual home/body. In terms of the overall scene: here I contrast the very traditional location (Lin Family Garden, a typical old Chinese garden) to a timeless place. Juxtaposing the external visible form that is represented by the garden to the internal often invisible internal psychological landscape - the outer birth place vs. the inner birth living within our body. To understand all these, we have to mention about the subject of identity as an important part of underlying theme. For example, I used skin as a costume, to write a fictional family history and story. Each calligraphic writing has its specific meaning, but when the performer moves, it loses its original meaning while making new meaning via
performance. Some words become invisible below the arms, while words on the side of the chin become visible. Like how we perceive things and people differently when we are abroad; and in return we are seen differently too by the others. What this multiplicity via movements in variant shots can generate on screen for me is indeed very interesting. I am a strong believer that film, because of its ability to combine multiple elements of artistic forms together, is naturally a creative tool that is capable of communicating this very concept of echoing and linking the past with the present to the future of time in one on screen. It is this alternate perspective and endless imagination that are the most charming aspect in cinema, always in space-time crossings. Your vision is at the same time sub-molecular and cosmogonic: in your statement about ISLE 4224, you refer to humanity through a microscopic perspective. Can you explain this concept? I will answer this in 3 points below: 1. Since early time I have been immensely interested in physics-metaphysics, chaos theory, and cosmology. So when talking about concepts like molecules and cosmos, we have to refer to the fundamental element of it all - time. Time, or concept of time, is where we human beings experience the distinct differences between the moment-to-moment (molecular level) and the eternal (cosmogonic) level. And in a circular cyclical way, it's the same thing and echoes each other's existence. We as mortals, in my opinion, can only experience the microscopic slice of life forms, because living organisms as well as human stories and delicate emotions are beyond thousands. Therefore, with this in mind, I feel I can only present one or two possibilities visually, the rest is completely left to viewers’ imaginations to fill the infinite numbers of probabilities. Of course I was also wanting to explore a different way of storytelling and experimenting with the hypothesis based on these concepts. Is it possible to use visually suggestive common motifs to trigger something forgotten but hurried within our energetic memory that's beyond this lifetime? Perhaps we have more than one lifetime? How are these past or future or
before-birth lifetime memories are stored? Questions like these came often to my mind in the process of creating this piece. Maybe this quote speaks for what I want to express more concretely: "Our illusion of the past arises because each Now contains objects that appear as “records” in Barbour’s language. The only evidence you have of last week is your memory. But memory comes from a stable structure of neurons in your brain now. The only evidence we have of the Earth’s past is rocks and fossils. But these are just stable structures in the form of an arrangement of minerals we examine in the present. The point is, all we have are these records and you only have them in this NOW.” , quoted from Spirit Science. 2. How can we explore timelessness living with linear time? I thought to experiment this through performing art forms instead of a normal narrative format.
Performing arts = erasable time + indispensable moments in time. This genre is both timerestrained, live only once in particular moments, and because of the very quality, timeless. It is also a form that I have been familiar with since a child, so I can boldly play with its delicacies and edges, turn it around and upside down, and if necessary, tear it apart, deconstruct and reconstruct it. Don't forget essentially I am an art player and want to have fun with it while doing it! The scientific artistic experiments allow this to happen in sequences of different timeframes, so it is at the same time requiring patience to string these “experiments results” together to form a whole, while recognizing the fleeting moments existed within these results that cannot be actually collaged together. So to authentically represent these “broken” elements from our 2D linear perspective to reconstruct a 3D life experience is something that I am interested when dealing with such theme. Namely, to see
eternal foreverness from one or several mortal moments. 3. I made something beyond words & abstract, intangible that only can be "seen" by tapping deeper into your own feelings and inner world. After all we are all small in the bigger landscape of time, no matter how much time changes, how advanced the technology becomes, what age status rich or poor, we still share similar basic emotions as well as experience the same cycles of birth-growingold-sickness-death. This reflects how humanity can be both shallow and deep. However, all throughout our history different fields of creatives and thinkers have continued to be charmed by questions of life and repeatedly explored such subject. Here is a work that is at one time surreal and real, abstract and yet full of symbols, not so much words, and the only thing is the whispering poetic verses in three languages. This is my very
intention to depict a world between understanding and unknown, dreamlike, and echoing as well as conflicting the realistic vs. psychological landscapes, all these entanglements and absurdities. How to explain a visionary work whose vision is ahead of time when all we have is now? I think by looking at the work itself is the best way to communicate my ideas. No answers because there are beyond thousands millions of answers, if I am honest with myself and your readers, I would not even try to label anything, let alone my own works. Memory, one of the core themes here, has bitterness as well as sweet happiness, I think that when all these becomes the source of inspiration for creative works and then able to channel it into a positive force, then it is the best. This is why I chose to reflect and dealt deeper into my own experience, base the story on it, and evolve it into
something larger than just a bloody painful birth of me into this world. - Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project? My creative process generally starts in the most common way, daily life like moments of hanging laundry or sitting watching plants outside while drinking tea in the mornings. I walk a lot so in these walks inspirations also frequent me. When this happens, normally I would start to sketch down in my notebook, which I always bring with me. Generally words phrases coupled with drawings, as inspirations often come first in the form of images in my head. What generally follows, once some initial ideas form, is an extensive research period. Like a sculptor, I need to work with the raw material in order to mold into something recognizable, otherwise it is just a puddle of clay. As my background is in the performance and theatre, so I would stage these ideas first into a performative piece, for me to actually see, feel, and observe more closely what and how it can be. Lots of improvisations can then happen within this first staged happening with given structures and some great additional materials thus can be developed further from it. I am a firm believer of experimenting by doing, and improvisation is key. Like the water, let it flow and it will flow to where it belongs. Therefore, often when asked about my creative process, I think more how to explain my formlessness approach to create forms, as it sounds at first contradictory. However, life is not about from point A to point B and the path is not always as straight as we think. I like an old Jewish joke: “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!” And perhaps Bruce Lee said most eloquently about this kind of path that some of us chose to take as well as speak beautifully about my creative approach: in his interview he said, “be like water, be formless, my friend”. Your art is rich of references: your visual imagery seems to be close to Sergei Paradjanov's rarefied atmospheres and
Romeo Castellucci's theatre. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? Thank you for the compliment! I had to check who they are haha, one always learns something new every day. Rarefied yes, complexities and the grand mystery in the universe always are wrapped inside the simplest form, such as a flower, thus there is the flower of life. And theatre for sure! That is my background and original studies, especially the somewhat grotesque, very surreal, and highly emotional and very corporal physical-theatre elements that also can be seen in Romeo Castellucci's work. Oh, Influences are everything in life. I think because I am rooted both in the Eastern and Western thinkings, so you can see a diversity of influences from both. Black & White silent films, social news world news, spiritual shamanic studies & folk traditions, anthropology, New media, old media, trees in the park on my way home, the food I ate this morning... you name it. I even was performing with a circus and sent to Vienna to study Opera, although one may not be able to identify the trace, but I am sure it is in there somewhere. Most people even colleagues like fellow artists get surprised when I tell them that I actually have a classic training traditional background, and although doing experiment and avant-garde work, I listen and watch often traditional works as well and love some of them equally. I tend to think we are like a sponge, absorbing information naturally, and most are not logical in the subconscious or unconscious level. So anything is as good as anything else. So hard to identify the specifics. Hmm, yes. Thanks for sharing your time, Delphine, we wish you all the best with your artist career. What's next for you? Have you a particular film in mind? I have some ideas and have shot some footages, but the overall concept is still forming.
Basically I work in very stream of consciousness collage style, and leave room for onsite improvisations. So it often takes a longer time to develop into a more solid material. Since the end of last year I have started to write a draft for a sequel that is more leaning towards the fictional narrative thatâ€™s inspired from an ancient Chinese story of NĂźwa, also known as NĂźgua, is a goddess in mythology for creating mankind and repairing the pillar of heaven; however in my story, as a contemporary woman, she will not attempt to repair heaven anymore but tries to create a utopia on earth this time. This time I might combine the performative storytelling with some new media techniques or animation to continue develop the style that you see in this video. I want to thank you for those who have trusted in me in this process such as Tony Huang my co-dancer-performer and who has not only inspired me but also felt lucky to have him in the world. Meta Hong my dear friend and talented woman of many things, and wonderful human being overall. Yuki Pan who has since a long
time given me many chances to experiment and try out my different art forms. Verena Kyselka who has not only been an excellent director to work on set while performing for her own films, but also has encouraged me with developing my own unique ways. Thanks to Han Yang and Ingo Keil who were willing to trust me enough to perform in this when I had only a rough idea and plenty of passion and guts to do this. Many thanks go to Dennis Tan whose music I came upon accidentally years after the video was made, found his music was a perfect fit for the video, salute to his own creative expressions and wishes for continuing of his own special sonic journey. Last but not least, this video is also dedicated to my family, thank you. Also many I have not named here, thank you sincerely. Something in the end of this interview I want to share: Today in my silent sitting time in the morning, I saw an ocean in my heart, very blue and wide. I would like to share this joyous and peaceful feeling with all your readers. Life itself is the greatest art of all, cherish it. Bind farewell without end.
Pau Pascual G
An interview with
Pau Pascual Galbis Ik'pulan vaichil is a psychologically acute, visually striking work featuring expressive cinematography and surreal atmospheres. With his sparse, poetic imagery, Pau Pascual Galbis offers a penetrating meditation on ritual and sacrifice. From the first time we watched Ik'pulan vaichil we thought of Alain Robbe-Grillet's cinema. We are honored to present Pau Pascual Galbis for this year's Videofocus Edition. Pau, tell us your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? In my teens I always had a great interest in the independent music videos, highlighting some of directors such as Floria Sigismondi, Chris Cunningham and Anton Corbijn. On the other hand, I was very much inspired by David Lynch’s films and his figure as an author, his works are close to dreams, music and the evocation of a decadent realism through sinister characters and seedy locations; those elements also present in my productions. I must mention some other important directors in my career, such as Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Svankmajer, Luis Buñuel, Carlos Reygadas, Ilia Khrzhanovsky and Ingmar Bergman, among others. Regarding the film by Alain Robbe-Grillet, I’d just got to know his enigmatic film L'Eden et après (1970) just before making Ik'pulan vaichil, because I was very interested in his perverse and personal flair of female desire, the predominance of the tendency, and the labyrinthine structured plot. In addition to the late nineties I started to study audiovisual and animation at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). Later when I was in Southampton (England) with Erasmus grant, I went to see the exhibition called Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. I saw the amazing projection Flex (2000) by Chris Cunningham, this
atavistic video was about the relationship problems between men and women and it was fully expressed with audiovisual experiments. I could say that somehow it inspired me to be a director. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: can you tell us how you come up with the idea for Ik'pulan vaichil? At first when I lived in Catalonia, I got the first inspiration for the video from the music Electric force by Nikka an author from Barcelona. Her superb electronic music halfway between noise and melody took me a dark fantasy of desolation, spirituality and intense immorality. Later I went to Tuxtla Gutierrez (Chiapas, Mexico) to work as an university professor, and it was where I met Tzotzil myth of 'ik'al, which became a revelation and crucial inspiration. Finally this legend matched Nikka’s Electric force, moreover it helped to build up the conceptual part of this video. The title of the video Ik'pulan vaichil means a nightmare, darkness and evilness in Tzotzil language. Ultimately it is a work that links anthropology, music and art in a very intimate way. The themes of ritual and sacrifice are fundamental in Ik'pulan vaichil. Can you introduce our readers to these fundamental ideas behind Ik'pulan vaichil? This work is inspired by the 'Ik'al from the Tzotzil Mayan mith of Chiapas (Mexico). ‘I'kal defined as a black bird looking anthropomorphic spectres which attack people in their nightmares and also kidnap women. After the arrival of Catholicism these figures became pukuj; perverse and evil devils. According to the anthropologist Calixta G. Holmes, when a Tzotzil person dreams or has nightmare, wayjel -animal soul of this person leaves his body to wander, but when chu'lel his other eternal soul is not present, he could be attacked by 'ik'al or by their negative effects like jealousy, envy, and
hatred which cause anxiety, depression, illness and even death to the victim. In summery, the ritual of sacrificing chicken implies that the young girl is turning into a member of the esoteric group, and poured animal blood symbolises offering his previous life. Regarding the purification ritual with an egg, instead of purify innocent girl, by using a black egg it inverts the initiation to make her immoral and impure. Improvised dance and hitting action with tools by the mistresses give synaesthesia and structure to the video. In addition, there is a twist of changing the male figure â€˜ik'al to female.
Finally, the mixed ethno-cultural mise en scĂ¨ne such as a syncretic religious act is practiced in abandoned industrial spaces is allude to the current controversy context of political situation, racial division and class society in Chiapas. We have been deeply impressed with your enigmatic approach to narrative form. How did you develop the structure of Ik'pulan vaichil? The structure of Ik'pulan Vaichil could be divided into two parts. One part is linear and realistic with live sound, and the other part is abstract, fractional and synchro-
The edition was mainly based in relation between music and planning of the ritual and the sacrifice of myth. Though there were some parts that were improvised. Also I was inspired by some of Sergei Eisenstein’s ideological formulations about edition. First on the concept of fragmenting, cohesive elements that articulates the film and from the symbolic conflict that occurs between the impulsive collisions with another posterior fragment, ex. The conflict caused the transition by cutting between two shots. Also the reflection of audiovisual counterpoint as his original system is remarkable, which equals the sound elements of the film with the visual images of the scene, and that contributes to construct the meaning of the film. The music has her own sense to reinforce it, and also to contradict or to create another parallel. Your film is an emotionally captivating journey. it depicts emotions in places where dialogue or traditional documentaries could not even scratch the surface. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?
nised, more related to the music and adjacent noise of Nikka. The audio in this video is also ontological but not superficial or decorative. In fact this particular narrative structure addresses the image and sound equal, creating more synaesthesia in the viewer's mind, and it’s stimulated primarily by the mixed, intertextual and fragmenting methods of the independent music videos. We have been fascinated by your dynamic, kinetic style of editing. Did the overall structure unfold before the camera, or were you already aware of these various pieces of the puzzle?
Viewers have to discover through image and sound, the anguish and frustration of the human beings, repressed and unaccomplished desires. In short, it's a film about dealing with the internal and intimate conflict, like Alain Robbe Grillet expresses his works as: Je n'ai jamais parlé d'autre chose que de moi. How did you conceive the visual style of Ik'pulan vaichil? Primarily I was inspired by the music of Nikka, I conceived it as a spacy Gothic, desolate and depraved. So it perfectly interrelated with dark and lewd spectre Tzotzil ‘i'kal. I add to mention that the make-up was infused by the blackened faces of ancient Mayan priests who committed sacrifices in honour of the god of death Ah Puch before the Spanish conquest. From a technical point of view, Ik'pulan
vaichil is a highly layered work. What challenges did you face while making your film? Yes, in some ways it was more technical, because I faced intense work of editing and post-production, checking over the connection of the images with the sound and also the logic of the story. We have previously mentioned Alain
Robbe Grillet, yet your surreal imagery seems to be closer to Jodorowsky's cinema. Can you tell us who were your chef influences? Mainly my references in this work are videoclips of Floria Sigismondi and Walerian Borowczyk's films, for their dreamy and sensual ambient, a disturbing animation and exquisite costumes. Regarding Jodorowsky film, Iâ€™m very interested in his esoter-
ic environment, open structure and magic rituals, which are actually very consistent with my work, but for this particular project, I did not think about his films, or any similar film of this theme. Thanks for your time and thought, Pau. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Pau Pascual Galbis? Have you a particular film in mind?
Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to have this interview with you. Right now Iâ€™m planning to edit an experimental documentary film with the images that I filmed in Mexico.
A still from MOMENT
An interview with
Nicolas Gaillardon Nicolas Gaillardon makes his own deeply personal films that often use specific locations as inspiration for larger emotional and philosophical inquires. In his refined film Moment he creates a timebased work that allow the viewer to abandon himself to his associations, revealing the seed of an attempt to set up new relations between sign and meanings. We are glad to present Nicolas Gaillardon for this Videofocus Edition. Nicolas, how did you get into experimental cinema? In the beginning my work was painting, where I represented landscapes. I used combinations of materials that interact with one another and questioning our relationship to the image and time. Make visible the evolution in time was already present in my work. In this time, I already filmed with my cell phone and a Sony DV camera to collect footage that was some materials to make progress my painting. And experimental cinema came slowly, with the first autonomous videos where short sequences began to talk with acoustic recordings, as a game between the visible and non-visible. The sound experimentation that I also develop in parallel, helped feed those shots. Then I had in my hands a little hybrid camera that can travel easily with the image quality needed for my film projects. My video work has been built in this way, and develops today. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for this work? This work started during a stay in Lebanon when I took part in an exhibition. The understanding and perception of time are so different than in Europe. Every moment is filled, intense and can be seen as an emotionally saturated moment. It is natural that I recorded a multitude of moments where men are usually missing from the picture, but not from the storytelling.
We have been impressed by your peculiar use of temps mort and static shots reminding us of Antonioni's early films. Could you comment this peculiar aspect of your cinema? The “temps-mort” brings us back to the essential, that is to say to what we see on screen. The first films of Antonioni have this in common, to make a statement by the languor. This is something that I love because it combines the simplicity of the framing with the complexity of the subject, here a city in a difficult geopolitical context. There is also a non-visible part: what we do not see is evoked by the soundtrack imagined as an off-screen plan. These clips give a high-angle shot that requires us to search, understand, imagine, and listen. What was the most challenging thing about making this film? The most complicated thing is to convey that emotion without suffer it, to find an objective point of view. It was important to show the city (Beirut and Deir el Qamar) and their landscapes in a new light than the one associated with destruction. The light, the colors, the smells, the sounds, are all factors that call to mind. All these elements also correspond to the reality of daily life. Another difficulty was to find the element that will help raise the general tension. It needed numerous shots and sounds recording for this, to find a subtle point of view that is not only frontal. Then, the camera takes us over the rooftops of the city. I think it is an ideal distance with enough perspective to see the world, build the vanishing points, but enough close to hear the rumbles and whispers that exude from it. Building an invisible tension implies a certain rigor in the construction of the plan. In the videos "Moment", construction suggests several perspectives. In "Beirut", what is hiding behind the bird house, at the bottom of the buildings, or behind the camera? In "Deir El Qamar", cars seem to escape from the shot, and the restaurant as a wholly scene shows an unexpected energy. In the distance, the horizon is blocked by mountains. The invisible is ultimately the trigger factor, the one that counterbalances what we see and leads us to imagine what hides behind this.
A still from MOMENT
You use of temps mort is indeed an attempt at a more abstract narrative cinema. Your films often approach the sheer lyrical quality of visual music, reminding us of Maya Deren's idea of film as a composition over time, rather than within a space. You have a peculiar sense of time and rhythm that harkens back to an older tradition of European filmmaking. How did you develop your filmmaking style? I think it is important to build movies where even when the boundary with the documentary is close, a sensitive and poetic dimension emerges. It's also a way to rehumanize things, at this time where image is consumed as content, and time continues to accelerate. For this, the music brings a lot of elements of answers in terms of rhythm. It is from this conviction that I broach the different projects. In the movie "Icod" the scene opens on a landscape seen from an interstice. The rhythm of drops of water drowning in their own mirrors, and the flow of cars in the distance, gently leads us into a ballet of the senses. Soundscape allows the viewer to get into a space-time for contemplation. The picture and sound are in harmony while the camera nestles in a garden overhanging a valley. Although the style is developed around furtive moments, the images are built like paintings. There is the landscape with all its depth, in which the figures are added, like vibrating elements. The shootings are moments of exploration. Until now the duration of these films is about 3 minutes. I like the idea that these videos can be viewed as paintings, or windows to the imperceptible. Then, series can be built, as "Moment" for example, where each plan has its own scenario. Did any specific director appeal to you? When we saw your work we immediately thought of Tsai Ming Liang... I cannot say that there was a specific director for me. The field is wide: it goes from Chris Marker and his "essais documentés" to Gus Van Sant, passing by many other genres. For example, movies like Mala Noche by Gus Van Sant, or One Plus One by Jean-Luc Godard, with a deconstruction/reconstruction bathing in a heady musical magma, or Peter Downsbrough’s minimalist movies deal with a reconstruction of the space. Therefore, the issue of the human figure absence always
A still from MOMENT
remains in the back of my head. This directors left a significant memorial mark while I was still student. Languor, without never being boring, the one that takes us into a state of consciousness, is probably the common denominator of all these sources. This is actually also the case with Tsai Ming Liang’s films, for which his management between slowness and over-activity is practically an act of resistance today. In an oxymoronic way, it is could be a manner to rise and express his rebellion, a way to restore flexibility and poetry in the world. This is certainly the goal in my films.
Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project? Each new project starts with a trip. It is for me a need to translate an experience with a certain plasticity. My compact video material allows this, it does not trap me by the constraint of a complex device. I only use a tripod or a stabilizer for my shots. During this, I accumulate series of sequences. My work then can be related to a journey log. Thanks for sharing your time, Nicolas, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker
career. What's next for Nicolas Gaillardon? Have you a particular film in mind? The next film in preparation will take place in Spain, about the ghost town’s atmosphere of Seseña Nuevo, in the south of Madrid. This is an entire city built then interrupted due to the financial crisis of 2008. The scenario is still in progress, but it will be in question the rhythm and tempo in the heart of a city landscape almost deserted.
Lara Morais An artist's statement
The video I make your story out of mine comes in the continuation of a publication, To the North, South, East and West, nothing. The curtain falls. End of Act One. (2012), that includes several stories concerning an inn located at the island of Terceira, Azores. This inn
has an historical background connected to the dictatorial Portuguese regime that ruled Portugal for 40 years until 1974. The interest in the history of this building started when I came across a paradox - the building was/is representative of a manifesto (by the architect himself) against the architecture of his time just as it was/is a symbol of the
dictatorship, having been a meeting point of a few heads of state during the regime. In the video the body behind the camera will uncovered what he expects from the space, what perceives from it, what desires to build with the images - a new architecture, a new history, an history that merges with other and many stories that further will be perceived and developed by the observer.
An inside journey that takes time in a sort of recovery, the mirror of what was and what is a piece of land by the sea, degraded and beautiful. A contemplation of space and time, an expectation. Lara Morais
An interview with
Lara Morais Lara Morais uses video to heighten and alter individuals‘ experiences of space and time. Her deeply personal films use specific locations as inspiration for larger emotional and philosophical inquires. I make your story out of mine reveals a deep analysis of the architecture of the Portuguese regime: throughout the film Lara Morais focuses on the tensions between perception, space and subjectivity. We are pleased to present Lara Morais for this year's Videofocus Edition. Lara, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium?
I started as a painter and soon felt that the medium did not allow me to fully express my concepts. I felt the “white” canvas and the painting materials as being a limited and static medium from which I could not entirely express whatever was happening in my mind. That is one of the reasons why I surrendered to video on its plurality of possibilities with editing, sound and above all: movement also done by the camera. On the contrary, the movement while producing a painting – which I find amazingly beautiful - remains hidden and frozen in the final image. Exactly this fact brought me to the idea of showing and visualising these concealed motions.
somewhat intimidating because I was the one being filmed. One can really feel my nervousness, my anxiety in front of the machine, feeling that the lens was a frightening object. In her book, On photography, Susan Sontag refers, “to
My first contact with a video camera was
photograph people is to violate them, by seeing
them as they never see themselves, (â€Ś) it
After this first experimental video where I
turns people into objects that can be
demonstrate the power exercise by the person
symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a
filming on the person being filmed, I decided
sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone
that if I would need characters for my projects,
is a subliminal murder - a soft murder,
I would always be one of them. From that
appropriate to a sad, frightened time.â€?
moment on, I knew how it felt to be on that side of the camera, the complexity of
conveying emotions and feelings. I decided to
some friends who knew I would be fascinated
take advantage of my anxiety in front of the
by the Serreta's inn, a modernist house located
on top of a hill, away from the city center, with an amazing view over the ocean.
We want to take a closer look at the
They knew very little about its history, only
genesis of your film: how did you come up
that it used to be a luxurious inn at the time of
with the idea for I make your story out of
the Portuguese regime. During the visit I took
some photos already thinking that I wanted to know more about that space: How come that
The idea appeared during a visit to the
such a modernist house ends up in ruins?
Terceira Island, in Azores. I was then visiting
Which are the connections between the regime
of which this project house was part, against the architecture of his time. Facing the little existing information about the inn, the production of an artist book seemed to be a daunting task, specially, because it was not my intention to document its history. At this point, I came up with the idea of writing a fiction. It turned out to be a narration of the inn's inner spaces through time: from its beginning, as an impressive, luxurious inn until its ruin. The artist book was thought and written to be a storyboard for a video. It is a performative text, a description of the space, which leads the reader to travel through a text without images.
“I walked for the second time trough that corridor, the two flights of three stairs, the several angles, the square windows on the left and the bedroom on the right. I remember this room – the bedroom in the middle, the one that was slightly open.“ To the North, South, East and West, nothing. The curtain falls. End of Act One. Lara Morais, 2012
In this artist book where one only finds text and its state of degradation, given that the inn
and drawings - no image from the inn was
went bankrupt in 1974, the year of the
inserted in the book - the text guides the
Portuguese revolution? What happened after it
reader through the space, letting him or her
was closed down? These and many other questions came up to my mind after the first visit. I had, by then, decided that I wanted to delve into these questions and present my
perceive the building by each word and sentence.
In the film I make your story out of mine – a continuation of the artist book, the viewer has
research on the inn’s history in the form of an
the time to gaze and discover the rooms and
artist book. Throughout my research I did not
corridors of the building, through the
find much more than the name of the architect
movement and the eye of an absent body.
- João Correia Rebelo - and a written manifesto
- We have deeply appreciated the way you highlight the paradox of the Portuguese architecture. Can you introduce our readers to this idea behind your film?
Portuguese modern architecture went through different stages that undoubtedly were influenced by the Portuguese authoritarian regime (1933 - 1974). In the 30's there was an attempt to introduce a modern architecture equivalent to the new state. Soon the conservatives rejected this style, which was mostly influenced by international schools claiming a Portuguese (traditional) architecture for the country. It was only with the first National Architecture Congress in 1948 that a new generation of architects demanded the end of censorship to architectural production.
Following this same line of thought, João Correia Rebelo designed in the 60’s the inn in Azores as being representative of a manifesto against the regime architecture. It, paradoxically, became a symbol of the dictatorship, by being a meeting point of a few
I make your story out of mine is marked
heads of state during the Salazar’s regime
by a peculiar use of camera movements:
(Prime Minister/dictator from 1932 to 1968).
from the first time we watched your film,
The building has itself an unusual history, to be found in the different ways in which it was inhabited through times – as an inn, space for private parties and a rehab center, abandoned and finally vandalised until our days. During my second visit and after two years, I realised
we immediately thought of Sasha Vierny's cinematography. Indeed, it would be interesting to compare his films marked by a strong use of tracking shots-just think of L'annee derniere a Marienbad - to
that the images were strong enough. I only had
I make your story out of mine. How did
to narrate the story through the gaze behind
you develop your filmmaking style?
the camera. After walking inside the house, exploring each
corner, I knew that I had to use the corridors –
image making in relation to space. Not only
the circulation architecture plan - to take
the movement on the moving images, but also
advantage of its singular architectural design.
the movement that is done by the person who
Each floor plan is different from the other,
is filming, a motion that is also intrinsic to
designed to shape the rugged terrain. Due to
the singular architecture, the tracking shots
I found it interesting when you first mentioned
through the several corridors - going up and
Sasha Vierny’s, in relation to I make your story
down, left and right - were thought to be a
out of mine, I found it amazing, because Alain
choreography. In this choreographed motion,
Resnais' film: L'année derniere a Marienbad
the camera follows the circulation plans,
had a strong influence on this film. It’s a non-
imprinting the images with its movement.
story; it lacks an ending and also the several tracking shots in the corridor where all these
I have a constant concern with movement and
aspects were taken in consideration. At the
same time, I read, The Invention of Morel, by
of that week, there was an intense bright light
Adolfo Bioy Casares, which may be described
due to the extremelly cloudy weather that
as an attempt to freeze time and inspired
made extremely difficult to achieve a single
greatly Alain Resnaisâ€™ film.
tracking shot from the inside to the outside and back again. Initially and before arrival, I
- What was the most challenging thing
was aiming at a full sequence without breaks.
about making this film?
But once confronted with the weather, I had to rethink my intentions in order to get the best
The main challenge was indeed the light. I had
shots for the montage. One has to be creative
planned one week for filming the building,
and open up to challenges that may appear
which I thought would be plenty of time. I
during the working process.
couldnâ€™t imagine that the weather would turn out creating such difficulties. Every single day
- We have previously mentioned Sasha
theater of the absurd, related to daily life (human existence); Dan Graham with his early performance work –the use of the camera as an extension of his body - where one can perceive the duality between inside and outside, public and private, artist and audience – also seen in his latest works, sculptural spaces (pavilions) – where one loses space perception; Chantal Akerman with her way of stretching time within the film, time to gaze the image; Yvonne Rainner, with her dance performances, presenting a real and conscious body, integrating ordinary daily life gestures in her routines; Henri Lefebvre, Peggy Phelan, Georges Perec and others that come up on my research. But there is one person that I want to refer, because it was very important for my development as an artist: Ian White, a British artist and curator who inspired and encouraged me to expose some of my thoughts and feelings long forgotten.
- You graduated in painting at Escola de Tecnologias Artísticas de Coimbra: can you introduce our readers to your multiVierny. Can you tell us your biggest
disciplinary approach to filmmaking?
influences in art and how they have affected your work?
After I finished my graduation in painting, I attended a post graduation at Maumaus,
During my artistic path I gathered influences
School of Visual Arts in Lisbon. This course
from different fields: such as literature and
was completely different from my previous
philosophy or architecture and film but also
education, showing me a different way of
dance and visual arts. I tend to not follow a
producing art and expressing my thoughts. It
single line of thought, that’s why I have a
was a radical change: I quit painting and
panoply of artists and thinkers influencing me,
replaced the pencils whith a video camera and
from which I form my own line of thought and
a computer – instead of mixing several colours
work. I would like to mention Samuel Beckett,
to produce an image, I started editing images
the existentialist themes within his work –
to produce other images. For sure, after these
years of practice, the production work and all preparations for filming have become more accurate and controlled, but I always leave some space for improvisation.
After the master of fine art studies, I invested in performance art and video performance, which took film-making to a place until then unknown to me – as for example, this current work – I make your story out of mine.
- Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project?
Since my work focuses on space and movement, particularly on domestic space, if it happens to be about a personal thought or experience, my whole daily life becomes a source of ideas and experiences. By evaluating every single possibility, one idea becomes a roller coaster of ideas. Along this evaluation, often, I return to my initial thought and idea, being certain that it cannot be produced differently. The possibilities are narrowed down to only one - the chosen one - and I conclude the work feeling very pleased with the piece.
- Do you think it is harder for women directors to have their projects green lit?
I like to think it always depends on the work/project itself. My work has no gender can be produced by a man or a woman - even if some of my works are connoted with feminism. It is an intrinsic issue that comes naturally but it is not the central object in my projects.
artistic excellence and success on the same footing as men. I also believe there are artists, who share the same feeling as myself, who don't appreciate to be seen as a female artist, but simply as an artist – to have their work judged or appreciated by its excellence rather
I do think it’s harder for a woman to achieve
by the artist’s gender.
For example, in relation to my last
some human limits and I did know that, at the
performance, some people from the audience
end, that would raise some questions. That is my
asked: Why are some parts of the performance
main point, to raise questions about life in its
so violent? Why is it so violent if there are
daily course, the absurdity of the daily actions,
three women performing?
the history as it is told and women in art. Fundamentally while being a women and an
This performance piece in question plays with
artist it is important triggering affect and
emotion in the viewer.
and the degradation of a body within that same space, led me through the ocean until S達o
Thanks for sharing your time, Lara, we
wish you all the best with your filmmaker
How can a sick body affect the space and the
career. What's next for Lara Morais? Have
daily movements? How a house and a body can
you a particular film in mind?
be related, in the way that if one gets old, if one gets ill, if a body from a certain age can
My current research related to domestic space
not rejuvenate itself, the same can also happen
with a space, with a house, with a space that
in S達o Paulo, where was build the first
hold human beings.
modernist building in 1929/30 - something that
I will have some months to work on these
I have been planning for some time and now I
issues and more to come, which will focus on
will have the opportunity to fulfill my plans.
daily experiences within a city like S達o Paulo,
Thank you for this opportunity and all the best
so densely populated.
for the Stigmart project.
My purpose with this residency it is also to film the modern architecture in Brazil - particularly
Rrose Present An artist's statement ODE Europe Europe is like a "site specific" where there is a juxtaposition of the physical space, the geopolitical space and network virtual media. A journey through sound and image processing
referencing filmic imagery of the cultural construction of Europe, imagery that contrasts with the “visual” content of moving images which are extracted from the virtual network of those crossing the borders of Europe “without permission” (Melilla, 2014). In turn, such images are interfered with by visual noise from a “TV”
without broadcast. As a found-footage piece I recompose the image no longer with the “matter” of the film, but with pixels of the media that mediate us. I experimented with the materiality of the rhythmic interferences that textualize the image,
transforming the “objective” media perspectives into “subjective” auteur perspectives that ironically play with visual and audible “noise” to deconstruct the memory judgments of the informational present. P.D. ODE Europe is a Work posthumously dedicated to all those who have died crossing our borders...
An interview with
Rrose Present's ODE Europe I focuses on the tensions between physical space, the geopolitical space and virtual media network in the post-modern age. In order to reflect on and represent the shifting relationship between these three elements aim is to extend the boundaries of human perception or to be more precise, to manipulate it and release it from its most primitive parameters in its search for physiological sensations. Her sense of juxaposition give her films a playful yet utterly subversive sensibility. We are glad to present Rrose Present for this year's Videofocus Edition. I’d like to begin by thanking Videofoculs for having selected this particular piece, which is very dear to me, and I’d also like to thank Jordi Costa, whose support and understanding can be seen in the brief review he wrote about the piece (included below). The story behind Jordi’s text may go some way towards explaining my style of work or film “spirit”. At the end of 2014 I attended a course on Outsider Cinema run by the CCCB (Barcelona’s Centre for Contemporary Culture) and directed by Jordi Costa, film critic and cultural manager. In the last session of the course, the participants were encouraged to submit their own work for discussion and debate. I was the last participant to present, and as I was getting ready to show my film the organizers of the event informed us that the allocated time had run out and therefore there could be no further projections. As a result, I approached Jordi directly to show him my work on my tablet upon leaving the centre, just outside the doors of that “designated place for art and cinema”. A great way to end a workshop on Outsider Cinema. “ODE Europe by Rrose Present
In a present day drugged up by the incessant white noise of mass communication, the image
hunter’s secret mission becomes that of rescuing and reactivating those images that appeal to a collective feeling of guilt: supplying meaning to this media wallpaper, digging through calming reference points, snow and other interferences with our vision. This is Rrose Present’s ODE Europe’s achievement: it rips away the veil that stops us from seeing, behind a series of cut-out figures on a landscape, the proof that, on this side of the border of a First World entrenched in fear, it is us, probably, who are dead.” Jordi Costa (film critic and cultural manager) Rrose, how did you get started in experimental cinema? They say that “in every catastrophe there’s a hidden gift we must learn to unwrap”. I’ve been using this quote, from a philosopher whose name I’ve forgotten, in presentations when I’m asked to talk about my career, as I find it very useful in illustrating how I began working in the field of moving images. My beginnings are undoubtedly the result of various failures and catastrophes, in which I’ve had to learn to “unwrap” the hidden opportunities within. I studied Design, graduated in Fine Arts and went on to do an MA in Philosophy and Contemporary Art. I was told that I was too “arty” to be a designer, that I “thought too much” to be an artist and that my writing was “uneven” and “too visual” to be a thinker/philosopher. What career could I look forward to, if not to use the rhythmic plasticity of images to communicate original thoughts, the results of my relationship with many different artistic disciplines and schools of thought? Chronologically speaking, it was thanks to a specific event that I started working in this field, an “accident” caused by Barcelona’s aggressive property speculation. One night, while I was sleeping, I heard a strange explosion which made six nearby building tremble and, consequently, I lost my entire home/workshop in a fire. This was in 2000 and I was one week away from the opening of my exhibition “Cartographies of emptiness” in a local gallery. The show consisted of a series of photographs, sculptures and “moebius strips” of an unfinished film. It was a large project based on a photograph of my naked body in a foetal position, from which I had created various sculptural objects from the empty parts of the body, re-photographing them in different landscapes. Unfortunately (or not), the exhibition was cancelled. With no home nor physical space in which to show my work, I applied for a grant to study image and sound at the UPV school in Bilbao, where I learned about video editing, animation, sound, lighting and… With an
interest in emptiness and silence, I went on to create some sound projects on the mechanical and electronic “noises” of “silences” (or the impossibility thereof) in which I combined Cage’s concepts of silence with Russolo’s ideas of noise. At the same time, I spent a year obsessively creating many different versions of those “cartographies of emptiness”, but this time de-localizing them and using different abstract techniques (animation, video editing, etc.) until I ended up with my first audiovisual work. So in way, having an “audiovisual project” had saved my life, filling at the same time my need to have a “life project”... The materic and painterly qualities of your film, combined with a peculiar use of found footage reveals your effort to get under the skin of the cinema, exploring the blurry boundaries between personal memory and collective memory. Can you introduce our readers to this aspect of your work?
I suppose that in the “plastic, painterly qualities” of my recent work there’s something of the work of pioneers of North-American experimental cinema. They, too, had trained their eyes within the spheres of the plastic arts (painting, sculpture, collage, etc.), which is also where found footage (used as an expanded collage of moving light) comes from. In Brakhage’s case, for example, found footage is used irreverently, and at times his images are treated as pure paintings, as with his hand-painted films; in the case of Bruce Conner, found footage is passed through a “critical” deconstruction of media discourse, creating new film subjectivities far removed from Hollywood’s “visual” stereotypes and its narrative standards. ODE Europe could be placed somewhere in between these two references of found footage, aesthetic recreation and critical deconstruction. My starting points are the different “sounds” of of the images in mass media (responsible for
mediating information on the web) as raw “material” for the material recreation in the construction of discourse. The image is the skin of an emotion which mixes internal images with those of the external world in a “subjective” digestion of itself. ODE is also a Homage to the fascinating cinema of Patrick Bokanowski. What's the influence of the visionary filmmaker on your artistic vision? The first time I saw Bokanowski’s work there was an instant connection — I fell in love with his films and his ability to introduce the viewer to completely new worlds, at times dark (“L’Ange”), and at times coming from another period (“La Plage”), where landscapes, silhouettes, water and images deconstruct in hypnotic rhythmic abstractions of reality, all complemented by an excellent score composed by his wife Michèle Bokanowski.
His films have a strangely compelling effect on me, they make me want to leap into them. They’re like an “oasis” in the sea of information of our obscene “objective” reality, infected by enslaving visual stereotypes, within contemporary regimes that trade in all manner of thinking, from the worlds of cinema, art, social media… Recovering the imagery that film-makers such as Bokanowski have left us is a gift for any sensitive soul, like hopeful visions of a sensitive “revolution” to fight the “dictatorship of reality” that’s made the world a “small place” (Pau Virlio) of stolen internet dreams. Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project? I think that the way I begin any project is through a mix of reflection and impulsivity, reflection and pulsion. Sometimes I start from a
personal story, or some public event that I’ve become aware of and that resonates with me, or from an opinion I’ve heard about art or about life… I might use cultural codes as my starting point, or I might even begin from an intuitive experimentation as a baseline from which to “feel”, in order to banish all this cultural intoxication in which language sophisms and technical terms kill any attempt at “real” or mysterious expression, meaning or message. And thus recovering Brakhage’s “untutored eye” to unlearn and see with fresh eyes the world and its languages, the codes of the present reinterpreted. In the case of “Miraclehouses” I began with a personal experience that allowed me to “put myself in someone else’s shoes” — in this work, language is the result of the need to express outrage towards the housing industry, as in the opening up of language in Heidegger or the metaphor of Wittgenstein, who compares language to a ladder that must be taken down once one’s destination (communication) is reached. When the opening up of the path becomes convention = language, it can be used to “dress up” opposite intentions and exploit the miseries of others for cultural gain. Other works, such as “Landscape_1, Landscape_2.0”, are born from pre-established concepts that require images in order to be represented. On other occasions, it’s the images themselves that “come to me” to tell me things, as in “Life or burning shadows”, where I found myself dancing with my own shadow and all the symbolism that entails. “Infraleve” and “Thinking with my hands” (or “Specific Dictionary of Critical Praxis”) was the result of critical research which responded ironically to the sentences of texts on art reception. It consists of a series of 36 small object-metaphors which acquire meaning through touch. The metaphors are resolved via a purposefully “atemporal” image that eschews the usual modus operandi of art, so as to deanaesthetise our retinas from the usual customs and habits of contemporary art. Like Hollywood for cultural norms, these customs and habits dictate what should be said, when it should be said and how it should be said in order to reach the transnational cultural tourism industry. In my latest project Vídeo “sin-cámara” reinterpreta “cámara-mundo” (2013-2015) I
start from images of the present to talk about the present using language from the present, within the following context: in a world full of images the artist reinterprets the “cameraworld” to give another “vision” of what it has already represented. Just as Duchamp did by breathing a second life into objects, here the recontextualized images build a new discursive temporality in an ecology of the image. ODE Europe is the work in which I’ve felt most fluid during its own process. It comes from a pulse, possessed by the “emotional” engine of an uncertainty, of an intuition that’s looking for how to express itself without losing track, without thinking too much to avoid putting at risk all the unconscious baggage, and not just conscious choices. So I “listened” to all the images that went through my mind, everything I could think of while I was editing. And as I finished I could “see” where the impulse had taken me, guiding me along this material, conceptual adventure where I found myself using Bokanowski’s subjective vision as a reference point. The concept of ready-made is fundamental in your video practice. What's the future of found-footage art in your opinion? What will be the influence of platform like vimeo and youtube? In Duchamp’s ready-mades, objects’ meanings are re-defined according to their spatial context, in the same way that words mean different things depending on their location in a sentence. In a piece of found footage we could create conflicting or unexpected meaning according to the space-time that the images occupy within the montage. As Harun Farocki would say, meaning is created in the “editing isle”. With the ease with which we can now find any image, on any topic, at any time, the creation of “meaning” becomes difficult in our contemporary “copy-and-paste” culture; meaning requires us to process and reflect on our images in the editing isle of our own emotions, or else we will simply be reclycling our images with copied and pasted meanings from others (whether those images are found or not). For images to have “meaning” they must have “felt” as living beings. This is the only possible “revolution”, that “resistance” to life that Antoni Negri talked about, “conscious” that they’ve defeated the current systems of power where images are vehicles for this new regime that
writes new lifeless “ways of life” (new language) on our unconscious consciousness. They’re clones of themselves and they impose a cloned image/thought in which we all live. Don’t be afraid to think and feel for yourselves!
dignified as our own. We know about image ethics when it comes to using others for one’s own benefit. Images are vehicles for information, but as such they lose their origin and their body, causing a loss of empathy with others.
In Ode you highlight the discrepancy between the cultural construction of Europe and its real face. Can you better introduce our readers to this concept?
Europe, however, is key in this process, as it possesses the poison and/or the cure to defeat our global killer economies and re-activate our revised humanist legacy.
We all know by now the socio-economic and cultural structures upon which “our” Europe rests, perhaps the most important of which is colonialism. We are now aware of the ethnocentrism we’ve demonstrated by imposing our own perspective on the rest of the world. We now know that the “cultural other” is a human being who cannot be desiccated and placed in a museum and seen as an “exotic”, “savage” creature, and charge for the privilege. We know that they simply belong to another culture, as
Your art is rich of references. We have previously mentioned Duchamp, however your visual imagery seems to be closer to Bill Viola’s (or Bruce Conner’s) cinematography. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? Duchamp was the first “initiator of discursive practices”, if we see the author as operating in
the shadow of Michel Foucault’s reflections on authorship. I learned to recognise “all the authors inside me”, with the humility of knowing that everything I’ve seen, read and experienced has influenced my vision, whether consciously or not, not to mention all the archetypical images of a collective subconscious, symbols of such transcendent mysteries as life and death in the history of human representation. And as there is no light without shadow, I can recognise in me the great influence exerted by those “Duchampian discursive practices” and at thesame time by the pulses that surprise and excite my “modest” reason, and I find myself with the transcendent questions of our existence in the same way that Bill Viola and many other others have … Currently I find myself moving towards the sensibilities of the experimental film image, where the contemplation of the movement of
those leaves, after the lunch filmed by the Lumières (as Bresson would say), has the power to make the invisible wind visible.. to see that which we can only reach through “sensitivity” and listen to the ethics of the invisible or behind the visible. Human experience is often the starting point of your filmmaking. Exploring found footage, you conceive video as an anthropological tool to explore thecomplex mechanisms of contemporarysociety. What draws you to a particular subject? In the contradiction between thought and being, the only thing left is to “breathe” in order to reposition the body as a (political) vehicle of experience and knowledge, like a “revolution of bodies” (Franco Berardi) escaping the data that turns beings into statistics. Statistics with which companies trade our data, our represented lives.
Inside any online representation is the atom of this new encoded language that defines us, like a new transnational “house of being” (how Heidegger sees language) in which no being lives, but which is designed for machines to communicate to each other in. Hence that method of capturing moving images, paving the way for their democratization, and offering a new “vision” of the world by opening our imagination with the “objective” that the “optical subconscious” allowed. It’s become a “machine consciousness” which controls the world’s “operative” images, where we are the “objective” as a flux that feeds the economy.
Thanks for sharing your time, Rrose, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Rrose Present? Have you a particular film in mind? Of course, in fact I always have several projects at the same time, in different stages of production. One of my projects involves the format of series, where I “interpret” the “camera-world” which ODE Europe forms part of, to re-subjectivize the “objective” vision of the information network, where we live in representation, representing ourselves constantly. I’m currently working on the simultaneity of time as a narrative form of contemporary visibility, with a new editing technique (which I shall name at a later date) as a way of creating meaning, ethics being a key idea in the search for materiality in images. To conclude, I’d just like to make a point related to the beginning of this interview. Let’s not kid ourselves — daring to talk about failure within a competitive contemporary society in which culture plays a central role in distributing the models of visibility of a systematic capitalist way of thinking might well be seen as blasphemy. Yet in this context, failure is construed as an ethical form of understanding that has led me to a continuous search and to walk down rarely-visited avenues in the cultural industries. As Maya Deren said in her text Amateur Versus Professional, daring to be an “amateur” who works with passion and seeks non-monetary gains. A triumph of ethics over aesthetics. ODE Europe is a Work posthumously dedicated to all those who have died crossing our borders...
Anantha Krishnan Intimate unintentional voyages towards external landscapes and organic representations due to impeccable internal melancholy linked with my artistic compulsion. unpreparedness facilitates accidental montages and political argumentativeness encompassed upon Indian subaltern philosophy. it producing ecstasy after the shoot as supper for the sacrifice which may emancipate intellectual nuance eventually while it conceiving.
An interview with
Anantha Krishnan My internal and external world is a complex and astonishing video by Anantha Krishnan. The surreal touch of her works has its roots very far from the Western magic realism. His films have been exhibited in numerous festivals in all over the world. We are glad to present My internal and external world in this Biennial Edition. Anantha, how did you come up with the idea for this work? It was a quest on the aesthetical conundrums which I personally suffered, one of my close comrade queried about the terms Internal and external, (I should mention it – he produced this work) there this certain unspoken thread followed me. Meanwhile I was into independent journeys for documentaries, for me I didn’t have problem with editing, because whole conjunctions were already connected in my mind screen. In My internal and external world we can recognize a remarkable personal touch: how has your history influenced the way you produce art?
Of course you can imagine, as like other respected visual hunters I intended to do journey, travelling is mental torture – there I usually fall in past not the history, perhaps I do start image building while travel, it is unimaginably creative than writing for screen writing. Personal history would be using in my upcoming work.
Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project? Why not, spreading words help the current work reaches others, it is in ending stage precisely, but as a beginner I canâ€™t throw my film just into festivals, I am working on it even though it is heavy aesthetical battle. I can give few hash tags like 5 years of journey, # non- funding doc fiction # political
anger, #Gandhi #documentation of people struggles # Left decline. Hence I believe whatever you say before starting your film â€“ it would be threat your soul. We have found that your art is rich of references. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work?
Being a humanities student certainly research and filming are inseparable. Journalist P Sainath, film maker Paul Thomas Anderson and cinematographer Ron Fricke influenced deeply, I don't have the courage to put more names now until i do something breathtaking stuff. Meanwhile I hereby do solid research on current work shadows of Gandhi, itâ€™s been a combination updating filming and facts. If you
donâ€™t update your knowledge, you may lose road to revitalization. You are focusing on DSLR cinematography lately. The spread of flexible low cost tools like the recent BMCC and inexpensive DSLR cameras has dramatically changed the way of shooting among independent and experimental filmmakers: how has your production
project we planned to do super 35mm film camera, and let us do shot rehearsal by canon 5d mark III, Like every aspiring film makers , me and my cine-felons also deeply confused with quality. Unfortunately Expensive storage devices are severe crisis now for every independent film makers. You are currently working with doc fiction shadows of Gandhi and music video. In these last years we have seen that the frontier between Video Art and Cinema is growing more and more vague: do you think that this "frontier" will exists longer? Shadows of Gandhi is …I can give few hash tag – for me it is tiring process to explain what it is
processes changed over the years? As you know that the dream quality is different and practical quality too, we are in fortunate period, a time of demystified age of film making. DSLR giving you an option like different usage of various lenses, meanwhile you can introspect with different range even though it won’t produce the expected quality. Before one
Petra Brnardic An artist's statement
This is psychedelic trip to my imagery grown out of my photos, which engages with a story about doppelg채ngers, alter-egos that are equal
(represented symetrically) just on the surface. It's like a dance of overlapping and melting homonyms containing fundamental mental, emotional and spiritual opposites that cause inner turmoils, identity disturbances and fragmentations of ego, followed by the sound of
the storm, rising and appeasing like waves of high and low tide, in the rhythm of fear, longing and rage. I inserted pictures of potentially dangerous animals such as tiger, snakes and spiders, but there is also an innocent, dulcet and dewy appearance of the butterfly. It's about
overcoming polarities in a fluid fusion of concrete and abstract forms, objects and representations that ends in nirvana-like release of tension and expansion of consciousness.
An interview with
Petra Brnardic Petra Brnardic's cinema embraces a surreal aestethic to explore the notions of body, identity and gender. Her experimental films convey a purely subjective, yet modernist, sensibility where the form conveys its meaning directly, and fully, blending a heady mix of philosophical idea, sexual frankness, and overt allegory. We are glad to present Petra's work for this Videofocus edition. Petra, first of all, how did you get started in filmmaking? I began to draw very early and I took my drafts very seriously as I sensed something was boiling inside. I always had that need to visualy express myself. And then in the beginning of the academy of fine arts I started to explore analogue photography first, recording myself and catching that tiny sparkles of life in things that surrounded me, like clothing, textures, dolls, hair, fluids, body parts, and it was all about those close-ups, where I tried to penetrate the core of those things, the pulsating vein of life in everything in my surroundings, which was the manifestation of my believing in animism. And then came digital photography, when I started frantically depicting my own face and body in different mental and emotional states, and in the end of that part of the journey I was overflooded by my own reflections, so I decided to use the dramatic potential those self-portraits carried, each one channeling some intense state of inner life, some turmoil, by putting them in relation that will tell a story through a moving picture, as a set of associations like in psychoanalysis. I also used internet pick-ups that were charged with hidden meanings and reflections of my psychical turbulencies. Everything was colorful, visceral and psychedelic and I wanted to merge specific aesthetics I built with the red line of the narrative. I had in mind all those trippy movie
dainties and gruesome scenery, begining from Bosch and Goya, and I wanted to unfroze my pictures and mix them in dancing viscosity. The sound, the moving and the aspect of time set pictures free, as they were confined in silent scream before. At the end of the studies I felt that it's time to make progression towards
new media and to use the potential of the accumulated pictures and ideas. In philosophical terms, I brought the notion of dark night of the soul, about which I read a lot, along with psychological books, as I felt I was going through the similar process. Someone once said about my works that they carry a lot
of gnostic elements, and although I consider myself pagan who likes to believe in the whole gaudy pantheon of picturesque gods and goddeses, I saw a hint of truth in it, because my work really deals with ambivalencies and polarities, and one of the main themes is the tension between them, like innocence and
obscenity, delicacy and brutality, fragility and raw, dark, destructive forces, victim or martyr and violator, male and female energy or archetype. Of course, the main pulsating vein of that doctrine is dichotomy between good and evil, which was fertile ground for giving birth to my doppelgĂ¤nger motif. I am constantly searching not the balance between those ambiguities, but productive rollercoaster and opulent chaos that brings out the best and most fruitful from each polarity, because I tend to prefer baroquely profuse pandemonium than geometric sterility of cold, purely intellectual, surgeon mind and its boreal light. By associations, I came to Arthur Rimbaud, prodigal poet who sang about ship of fools and remembered that I always were opiatically attracted with troubled artists and their seismically tumultuous biographies have always been my guilty pleasure, and therefore an inspiration for what I do, because lunatics have no filter; they, like royal court jesters, speak the truth and are actually the wisest and most lucid. Tempest is, I hope, the testament of that flare of lucidity through blinding, fosforescent veils of chaotic mental marry-gorounds. It is also logical extension of my numerous photographies and collages, a set of my reactions to the world and my dreams transformed into motion psychodrama. The movie merges all disparate facets into one fluid circle of meaning. In your recent film "Tempest" you achieve a remarkable fluidity in storytelling, and at the same time a fragmentary style,Â€ taking the viewer through a roller coaster of characters, doppelgĂ¤ngers and emotions. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Tempest? The pictures of myself were accumulating in my digital storage, like frozen marble sculptures, and I wanted to band together all those contradictory depictions and unsettling, raw emotions into the medium that is more ethereal. Actually, I was prepairing a big solo exhibition and I gathered the most
representative and talkative self-portraits and photos of body parts and things and sites that surrounded me and had a special, magical meaning. It was a site-specific installation, where those photos were tightly sticked one next to another in the form of collage, and in the corners huge veils made of black plastic bags were positioned, bonded with chains, that
ressembled a sadomasochistic dungeon, a place for torture, but also for royal, decadent pleasures. Some of those photos descended into my video, mixed with others to flourish into a moving image, and it represented a breathe of fresh air: new media broke all that hamster hoarding of my opus and made it plastic and vivid, with capacity for greater,
more articulate communication of the idea. So, the video was focal point of the exhibition, a sort of shrine, and a place where I could fuel my combinatorics, because photography became too static and monumental. I wanted something filmic that would be an equivalent for the kaleidoscope of my thoughts, and where I could combine essence with effects,
space with time, penetrative glares with dizzy dance of the psyche, perverse and bizzare extravaganzas with deep subjective truth. I realized I also wanted it to be poetic and to reflect my interest towards psychoanalysis, myths, religion and my own references to the emotions, insights and personal changes I experienced by watching certain great movie pieces or going through significant life events.
Speaking about the way I create, I'm not so good in molding cool, intellectualy based concept in advance, before realisation of the project. I never have clear picture in my mind; I create more instinctively, and in that weltering kind of process it gradually comes to my mind what is it that I want to say, what message do I want to speak out; the aim chrystallizes through the boiling process of
specific atmosphere of tension, suspense and mystery, where nothing is defined and everything is opened to interpretation and inscription of additional meanings, according to emotional response from the public eye.
incubation. In that way Tempest was built, in the heat of wuthering inspiration, and it could be seen in its experimental nature and structure. It is primarly fragmental, like gathering the pieces of broken mirror, but the main idea sneaks smoothly through it. I don't incline to pure linear storytelling, but creating a bigger picture out of fragments and visual metaphores, and I am trying to weave a
I am pretty much of an introvert and overtly emotional, and I wanted to channel that hypersensitivity through series of characters that represents facets of myself. Very soon I discovered that everyone has its dark side, and mine was very headstrong and determined, and I found myself in a whirlpool of sensations with which sometimes I didn't have adequate tools to deal with, and I realized that the only way to beat it is to give it shape and concrete features, in order to tame it and manipulate it into something lighter. It bears in its belly all my anxieties, fears, sorrows, longings and desperations, and as I found out that those dark, gloomy, terrifing and overwhelming emotions actually give me inspiration, I decided to nurture them and to face my demon boldly. It became doppelg채nger, my dark alterego, siamese twin who scares to the bones, but who would cause disintegration if I cut him off; in that case all my rich mental substances would bleed out of me. I took the faces of various female characters, from enslaved, frightened and tortured nymphs to glorious, magnificent queens and goddesses as my ideal ego. Sometimes the danger is depicted in uncanny, eery form of obvious freak, a prodigal leviathan, as a disturbing thought or feeling I projected outwards, in the world that then haunts me, and other time it is me, doubled, methastasied, in murky soliloquoy. So, it's about simultaneous fear of others, and fear of one's self and one's own twilighted impulses. In that dance of characters, vulnerable and wounded woman is pervaded by revengeful and victorious one. I made all of them soak in thick, glutinous shapes and colors, that resemble the belly of mother earth that excretes gems and pukes fire. I wanted to make it feel hot, claustrophobic, macabric and erotic at the same time.
Your quest to investigate the themes of sex and psychical archetypes remind us of symbolist's obsession with death, sexual ambiguity, and an intensification of sensual input: could you introduce our readers to these fundamental concepts of your art research? Yes, there is a bunch of unconscious references to that era: damsel in distress, for example, or femme fatale, as part of virginwhore dychotomy I am also obsessed with: that relation between heavenly, aery nymph and bloodlust, venomous, deadly seductress is one of my artistic ubiquities. I represent the latter as a spider woman, medusa or snake, raw and vulcanic force of wildest nature with killer brain (that is my reinterpretation of one-sided symbolist belief that such woman stereotype is only physical and hormone-driven being). She is my ideal because she has control over her emotional tumults and outbursts, her existential doubts and often doomed and tragic relationships with opposite sex and society in general. And she has a solution for moments when she feels alone, alienated and misunderstood. Symbolism is important to me because its preoccupations are mysticism and spirituality and it insists on subjectivity, and I am trying to transcend material reality and reality of the flesh and sexuality through using symbolic imagery. Also, there is obsession with death and necrofilia as its particular thematic branch, and I think the main dance of my visuals revolves around tension between sex and death, or Eros and Thanatos. I'm dealing with death being sexualized and vice versa, intoxicating, tart, luscious, daring sensuality being colored by all nuances of death principle and desire for annihilation of all suffering and existential despair. Everyone has a need to overcome the fear of death, that inevitable final (is it?) stage of our existance, and I chose not to fantasize about paradise, but to submerge in the moment, engulfing myself in the meaty and sassy wings of Eros. They are soothing, but on the other side, exploring death is an urge to peek what is behind the curtains, what awaits us, and to face the rot,
the ugliness, the unsettling darkness of grave or fear of nothingness and emptiness. Dancing on the edge and teasing borderline experiences makes us feel alive and pumps up adrenaline. But then, the overabundance of sensations that bombard the brain and psyche causes searching for a relief in a morbid, macabric calm, narcotic dream of sleaping beauty, beautiful corpse. There is a lot of my
personal traits involved in that imaginarium, where I necessarily explore masochism and tendencies for submission, but there is also a fight between wishing to subordinate and yearning to regain power and control, in society and relations between genders and sexes. I could say that my ideas are injected by a certain fix of romanticist fantasies, maybe
because I can't find myself in the cynism of contemporary time. There is a lot of hermetic, esoteric and occult in my work that gives it coating of anti-activist solipsism, but there is one element that I think surely corresponds with the world today, and it is subtle idea of feminism through exploring problem of feminity and sexuality. I have strong need to communicate with body, as it is a vehicle for
my message, a blank canvas for my story, and in that way it becomes a political body, and I a public woman. Using body in art usually doesn't serve to generate the desire, but to convey message and in that way it is a metaphor, but in my case it's role is universal: it is sublimated, but still maintains the role of scream about wild, untamed sexuality as a principle of life in the opposition to robotic, alienated, frigid reduction of humans to pixels in one huge videogame of capitalism. My idea and dream is returning to arcadia, maybe a bit utopian and escapist, where endless orgies take place. On the other side there is that symbolistic melancholy, and together those principles make a bipolar viewpoint to the existence. I tried to made a cocktail of frankly carnal and sublime, a realm of senses and intense emotions where identity borders are melted in dark ecstasy. It is a hallucinatory nostalgia for innocence lost, in terms of mythical, nonlinear time of eternal fiests. Rituals of sacrifice, cruelty, cannibalism, sadomasochism, fetishes and taboos are the motifs I love to indulge into while incorporating them as allusions or point-blank depictions, because I want to accentuate death and regeneration as an essential parts of existence and ritualistic, cyclic time, which is opposed to phalic principle of militant ambition and artificial destruction. My video work much resembles my digital collages which are hurricane-like mish-mashes of those macabrically erotic elements where I create fusion of futuristic visions with mirages of ancient history. Everything is lustful, devouring, aggressive, manic and frantic, each element builds a scene of natural disaster that peaks in collective orgasm of the flesh. Despite the diabolic aspect of those sexually charged works, they are more optimistic and celestial. In photographies the air is more intimistic and the accent is more on the feeling of loneliness, isolation, fear, pulsating of ghosts in the claustrophobic mind. I deal a lot with bodypaint and red colour, the metaphor for blood, which tangles together notions of sex and violence,
perversion and ambivalent feelings towards sexual extremes. Tortured but aroused body stands for psychological suffering. Suppressed desires, rage and frustrations are also small eruptions under the cortex of my work that are presented in body parts that are tied up, bruised, cut, covered in red traces of my hands or some intruder â€“ all of that speaks about distorted, dark, seedy erotica I am enchanted by. I find frank visual presetations of such fantasies and states liberating and with full potential for catharsis, with equivalents in underground and queer clubs with all sorts of torture garden machinery. In that context, my exploring of sexuality is like a playground where I can act out my deepest and dirtiest fantasies, and also define my identity. And it leeds me to conclusion that I'm sort of polymorphously perverse, in sexual, personal and artistic way, and that the identity is nonfixed, plastic, viscose and in constant state of metamorphosis, like a chameleon. Also, there is often a picture of myself daringly staring at others that stare at my disclosure, and in that way I try to establish female gaze and desire as an active opponent to dominant male gaze.
How did you develop your visual style? I was a heavy daydreamer in my ivory tower and I always had to torture blank piece of paper or everything I could spill my ideas on, but somehow, my style naturally evolved to supernatural and surreal, because I always wanted to peek behind the curtains, change the reality and distort the norms. My mind was attacked with all sorts of hybrid creatures, male or female, and I loved to create my own laws by gluing them together. Although back then I didn't know about Austin Osman Spare and his automathical drawing, I practiced almost preciselly the same way of expression, joining figurative elaborations with allusions and horror vacui ornaments. In the beginning there was often the desert in the nuclear time, or some desolate space, futuristic hybrids between architecture and found objects, semi-spiked and semi-organic. The main actors, male and
female, were in passionate or bloody encounter. I drew with everything that came to my hand. The drawings were either black and white with occasional splash of red, like blood, or psychedelically colorful, always depicting some suspense, thriller, evil premonition, deep melancholy or sheer ecstasy. By today I am balancing between black/red, sharp and raw style, and hallucinatory rainbow-like conceptions, soft and cosy in their pulp, vivacious pulses of visual hysteria. Stylistically those are the different vibes, but the aim is similar: to give birth to brand new paralel universes with flamboyant actors and wondrous atmosphere, all of them the extensions of my multiple identities. Surrealism that shaped me is, in my opinion, about ego crash, or ego death, because ego is attached to rationalisations, intellectualisations, all defense mechanisms of the psyche that keep her in the petrified state of serving dogmas and demands of superego that grew out of social imperatives and false morality, and when that ego fortress crumbles, horizon shows immense possibilities. Perspectives are different, taboos challenged and we are spiritually open to the avalanche of subcounscious treasures, and that enhances creative intelligence. It frees childlike playfulness and eagerness to discover what hides beneath, what wonders or taunting, provocative dangers lay below visible and rationally explicable. I always loved to combine seemingly disparate objects to achieve element of surprise and wonder, like in dreams, whose twisted logic was fuel for surrealist fantastic constructions, and I did that by following my own stream of thoughts and free associations, digging deep into my abyss. I didn't want things to be obvious, but to hint suggestions through miraculous, thought-provoking conjunctions. In your work you often use mythological subject matter, yet developing your own highly individualistic visual language: we dare say that you tend to use mythic subjects in a painterly way, where they are
emptied, manipulated, and personalized: can you explain this aspect of your cinema? I found mythology to be the vast space for enormous possibilities of inscription of my own envisions inside its flexible abutments. It is not strict as philosophy and theory, nor rounded in
its own fictional reality like novels and poems, for example. It's like colour by numbers, huge mandala with general shape in which I revel myself with my own idea of how the world should look like. Or at least my inner world, my paradise regained after hell chastened. Mythological creatures often have two or more
faces and their meaning and symbolism is multilayered, and many meanings of symbols (like animals or numbers) vary in different cultures, so I found that realm perfect for manipulations. Someone once teased me that my use of vampire and bloody eyetooth imagery borders with teenage goth style, but I explained
that for me vampires are metaphor for games of power and control, something that really bothers me on everyday level in society and in relationships, not to mention politics. There is always someone who is in charge, a sadistic dom, and someone who suffers and is degraded to the lowest point; the notion of
hierarchy reminds me that there is no actual freedom, and that were all those hungry jaws about. I devoured psychology books like insane, so many informations sneaked in, maybe too unselectivelly, so I gathered a load of
soothe my disturbances and weave my own personal history, now charged with meaning. It was like the town of ghosts I populated with structured entities that alleviated hurricane like calamity and destroyed the dragon that was fed by my weaknesses and fears. The main characters of my psychodrama are animus and anima, carnivorous demon or notorious double, and central actor, myself, with all aspects of feminity and psyche. I found an interesting notion about how animus works inside the woman; he is either young, mad and bad rebel that through visions and dreams reminds overly independent, busy, strong, stubborn amazonian superwoman that she needs to loosen up, or the old, scary, monstruous man who is after puella aeterna to face her with neccesity of taking responsibility for herself, to grow up and to resolve sexual ambuiguity, frustrations and fears, dependency to kindness of strangers, and playing victim; a girl that hesitates to grow up, has daddy issues, is helpless and searches for her prince on the white horse â€“ all those idealistic features. The movie starts as an explosion of a tiger, an angry beast, and it announces the beast in myself that intertwines with the frightened girl. It is inner demon, ultimate monster, a shadow, an enemy that must be beaten, or a secret, shamanic, mystical guide through burdensome journey. I wanted to say: this is what bothered me all this years, this personal narrative that gained gargantuan proportions and growed like rolling snowball. This is what's been haunting me, but I won't just spit it out: I'll weave a nightmarish fairytale that begins in angst and wanting to jump out of my skin, and ends in pure white bliss, nirvana-like release of all possessions. The aim is achieved: individuation took its place under flickering flashbacks of tormented soul and whimsical apparitions.
informations some of them I skewed so that they correspond with my momentary state of mind and phase in life. I also had to give names and faces to my personal crises and traumas, to explain them and put them into some symbolical order and constellation where they could gain purpose that would
In the meantime, I played with various stages and roles of feminity, from a doll that stands for innocence, tenderness and being lost in the world, to the grown woman whose psyche and social conditioning is forcing her to change masks and personas; in other words, from nymph, to virgin, whore, amazon warrior, vamp, femme fatale, empress, priestess and sorceress. I am fascinated with all those faces, each of them revealing its own grandiose history and psychological complexity,
and I consciously and unconscously mix established archetypes with my own visions of them and their role in my own search for the holy grail of identity; I reinterpret them in my own pictorial language. The aim of that expedition is spiritual androginy, or masculine reason married with feminine emotions, intuition and wisdom that is tightly connected with wilderness and power of nature. Masculine also represents civilisation, and feminity vulcanic and oceanic instincts, unstoppable and transformative. I am enchanted by the allure of Lilith, first Adam's wife, because she's a strong and independent woman, a punk and rebel that refused to subdue to man. She fights against the system and is revolutionary, subversive element, thorn in the eye of patriarchal society, and also represents sexual freedom and confidence, and being in charge of her own body and sexuality. There is also Hecate, a magician that has active impact on reality. She is also a creature of the night and moon, which is very important because most of my imagery revolves around chtonic goddeses, secrecy, magic and descent into downward spirals of lower astrals, so to say. Involving in play with empire of the signs is an attempt to control your destiny, even in contexts that invigorate feelings of helplessness, and dealing with female stereotypes is interesting because it moves apart veils from the territory that appears as a dark jungle of irrationality, capriciousness, elusiveness and mystery, as in famous Freud's question, „What does a woman want“ that perpetuates the enigma of feminine soul. Doppelgänger is in my case that sinister creature, persecutor that represents conscience, but also deepest fears and troubles. In that nightmare I paralelly take the role of Isabella Rossellini and her torturer Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. It's like the darkest fantasy in which you simultaneously take sinful pleasure, but also are terrified by, something that draws to irresistible selfdestruction. Doppelgänger is introjected violator, outside cause of the trauma, but also my own perverted, dark self, like Dr. Jeckyll
and Mr. Hyde. There are also allusions on vampires, witches, succubuses and incubuses. The animals are mostly nocturnal as a hyperactive, insomniac mind, predatory as dangers of life, and reptile as lower forms of beings that represent basic instincts that chain us and fight with upper floors of the soul. The
Id is flooding the scenery, flowing through the tunnels and labyrinths of psyche like torrent or lava, and this is how I wanted to accentuate the predomination of subconscious in my work and the immense impact of dreams. Letâ€™s speak about influences. From the first
time we watched your film, your imagery reminded us of Kenneth Anger's cinema. Yet your art is rich of references, from Willheim Reich's theories to surrealist cinema. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work?
Movies are not the only influence, I owe much to literature, mythology, psychology, philosophy and music. I have already entered the rabbit hole in the Academy of Fine Arts, when I heard about Kenneth Anger for the first time, my professor comparing my work with his, as the vortex that springs from the bottom of the
waters, bringing up the treasure, but also all the filth and disturbing alluvium from the deepest, muddiest spaces of psyche and sexuality. It striked me how powerfully and virtuosly, in a synesthetic way, Anger uses symbols and pictures and neon-like colors to paint his idea and occult phenomena. I was
narrative had massive input on my theatrical and stylized creation of images. Surrealism opened my eyes, with its dreaminess, stream of consciousness in visual form and free asociations: I was delighted how so disparate phenomenons were jointed together in a completely new narrative and how irrational logic can be more firm and real than the legitimate one. On the other side, I was emotionally attached to expressionists, especially german, and distorted, deliric, incandescent, semi-psychotic reality of their paintings, with hectic cities, skies in flames and protagonists lost and sickened to death by the effects of war. I loved their spasmodic, mad, malformed characters, toxic, shrieking colors and angst that was almost palpable. Expressionism was everything I thought my creative mindset to be. Viennese actionism also made a grand impact on my art, with its raw, immediate, bold expression and harsh drawing lines. I fell in love with G端nter Brus, and Elke Krystufek, with her uncompromising, visceral, sincere art that punches you in the guts. Her bold, provocative yet personal work and her courage to daringly reveal herself pushed me into much braver self-expression and investigation. Nan Goldin is also important for my work, as well as Raymond Pettibon, Matthew Barney, exquisite symbolist Odilon Redon, and romanticist visionary William Blake, and, off course, Goya and Austin Osman Spare.
immediately magnetized by his pagan gods, mystic rituals and frank sexuality, and amazed by the eliptical way he depicted the themes and produced beautiful and haunting images, using subliminal energy to suck viewer's eye and emotions into his work. Alegorical style and ceremonial nature of his
David Lynch's Twin Peaks stroke my deepest chords: murder, mystery, beautiful corpse, secrets, set of derranged characters, mad as a hat, all those were ingredients for perfect cocktail I would carry on sucking through his iconic movies. I found myself in his attitude that sometimes we shouldn't, or even couldn't explain everything. What truly mesmerized me was that possibility of more solutions for the plot, and the fact that everything is possible, and the line between reality and fantasy was drunk blurred and made the pleasure of encountering his young lovers, euphoric actresses, possessed and damaged
vamps, diabolic villains even bigger and dizzier. I enjoyed David Cronenberg, mostly his fetishist movie „Crash“, and Roman Polanski with his exquisite assays on horror of human tumults and thrilling psychological suspense. Later I find out about Alejandro Jodorowski and his trippy movies with esoteric issues and surrealist expression, and I was gorged by his hot blooded aestetics with elements of grotesque and repulsively naturalistic details of the story. His psychedelia in visual storytelling and obsession with alchemy, tarot and other esoteric praxes was the spitiruous fish-hook I was catched on, as well as his carnivalesque imagery. I find „Inferno“ by Henri-Georges Clouzot visual and atmospheric masterpiece. Andrzej Zulawski masterly deals with diabolic side of human nature and creates engulfing paranormal and otherwordly story plot (I think
about disturbing horror drama „Possession“) that terrifies, hypnotizes and forces you to look deep beneath the skin, and question the definition of real and surreal, rational and irrational, sane and batshit crazy, love, hate, obssession and female emotionality. As far as Wilhelm Reich is concernend, I am amazed by a movie Dusan Makavejev made („Mysteries of Orga(ni)sm“) about his ideas of free sexuality in relation with revolutionary leftist ideas, of the neccesity of sexual freedom and its impact on personal freedom in every sense. I can bond his idea of cosmic energy with my own panorgasmic feeling that threads through my work (euphoria is, in my case, the other side of the same coin with anxiety, because fear is just a masked excitement, a pathological form of it), but also with mystic
ecstasy saints like st. Theresa experienced. It is like making love to god, or some higher force, and that is more sublime version of having sex with a person. I tend to groom those magical beliefs and maybe strange connections, although they don't impair pure carnal, voluptuos aspects of my life and artistic experience. Thanks for sharing your time, Petra, we wish you all the best with your artist career. What's next for you? Have you a particular film in mind? I am working on the next project, but my head is swollen from images and I still create by the principle of free associations, although some perpetuating motifs give me general idea about the theme. I am now
more into visual complexity: pictures are more detailed than in previous films, like altars full of strange creatures squirming and wriggling around, usually with female creature in the center, and process is more demanding. But I'm sure it will come out as a healthy, loud baby. Also, I am organizing my material for solo exhibition, which consists of my colorful, sanguine collages. I am looking forward to new adventures. Thank you for hosting me!
Christina Tester An artist's statement
What I Meant to Say is a six and a half minute video shot entirely from one perspective in a single room. For the duration of the film, I am seated on a couch often lost in thought and never really present. At various moments a second version of myself appears overlaid on the passive body and spontaneously springs into action. To the sounds of Chopin's piano music, I follow an impulse and allow it to flow through my body. Once the urge has run its course, I return to my original position on the couch and disappear back into the sitting body. This is the second moving image work I have made using video, with my previous works created using the technique of stop motion animation. Animation allows me to manipulate and control every variable within each frame,
but the flip side to this is that the technique doesn't leave much room for spontaneity or happy accidents. Recently I began having ideas that involved capturing natural movement, and video felt like a more honest documentation of the passing of time as it records moments in a continuous sequence. I also required the ability to work in front of the camera as opposed to behind it, so this also necessitated a move towards video. I wanted to capture and study human impulse, spontaneity and primal urges through movement of the body. Many of us are quite physically restrained in our day to day lives and are not aware of our own body's potential for expression. I was interested in the ways in which my body could be used to instantaneously express ideas that are not as easily conveyed with words, and in how my unconscious, impulsive urges could be expressed physically.
By capturing this experiment in self-exploration on video, I was able to look back at how my body translated expressions of strength, sexuality, femininity and humour. Some of my movements in What I Meant To Say began as expressions of concepts, such as 'struggle' or 'fear', while others were purely inspired by the music. The music of Chopin plays throughout the film but the sound shifts between being quite distant and mixed with room sounds, to being prominent and immersive when the active body appears. When the two bodies become one again, the soundtrack reverts back to being completely diegetic. This change in sound emphasises the difference between the static and active sequences, or the sudden shifts between conscious thought and daydream. I have always found that the combination of sound and image can be very powerful and have often explored the
relationship between the two in my works. The inspiration for this work came about through a few different channels. While on holiday overseas, I experienced the freedom of unstructured time and the ability to act upon whims. Upon my return, I wanted to maintain this free feeling and channel it into something creative. I was also reading Virginia Woolf's 'A Room of One's Own' and acted upon a sudden urge to empty my room. While sitting in my bare room, I had the idea to make a video in which I could interact with the space in a new way, and which would capture the essence of urge and impulse. I felt that I needed to be completely alone in an empty and safe space to allow myself to imagine, explore and be impulsive. The resulting video work is a documentation of a personal exploration where I was able to express my spontaneous urges honestly and unselfconsciously.
An interview with
Christina Tester Christina Tester's work tends to favour serious formal experimentation over symbolism. As a multi disciplinary artist, she fills her delicate, contemplative films with metonymies to achieve a dense emotional complex, echoing intense mind states. We have selected for this Videofocus Edition her video performance What I Meant to Say, where she explores the themes of body and identity embracing the aesthetics of visual clarity. Christina, how did you get started in experimental cinema? As a child I remember becoming obsessed with Disney's Fantasia. I had to stay with my grandmother for a period of time and I can't recall if it was 6 weeks or 6 months but I watched Fantasia so much that my Nan had to buy me some headphones so that she didn't have to hear it. That was my first experience of a world of moving sounds and images that didn't require dialogue or characters as such. I feel like it was quite abstract and, as a child, very stimulating for the imagination; it definitely sparked something in me. Once I completed my Fine Arts degree, I started having screenings of my work and that's when I started meeting people who introduced me to experimental cinema. It's interesting that the Fine Arts degree, which specialised in intermedia arts, ignored the rich history of experimental cinema, and cinema in general, and focused just on video art, which was much more recent. I'm glad that I was eventually exposed to the works of experimental filmmakers. In "What I Meant to Say" through the use of improvised actions, the medium moves beyond notions of theatricality and into the realm of real experience. Can you introduce our reader to this video performance? To start with, I took almost everything out of my room so there would not be any distractions and so I wouldn't have the urge to interact with objects other than the couch. I was more exposed by being in a bare room. I
wanted to be free to draw something out from within myself with the only limitations being the boundaries of the room and the field of the camera's vision. My movements were influenced by the music that was playing: it would draw emotional responses or feelings out of me that I would then express through movement. Sometimes the movement would be fleetingly dance-like, in that I would respond to changes in rhythm and tempo. Other times I would perform an action that
didn't fit with the music but was still a response to it. Ultimately, my goal for the film was to express the desires and urges that occurred at that moment. This was a smallscale expression that addresses a larger problem of repressed desires, both on personal and societal scale. I found the process cathartic. Whatever the medium you use, improvisation is a fundamental element of
your artistic research is the process: could you comment on this peculiar aspect of your art? For me improvisation is the key to getting to the bottom of what I'm trying to express. Often, I feel like I have the edges or the base of an idea but the middle remains a mystery. I see this as the part that logic and my conscious mind can't get hold of. So for me improvisation and spontaneity are tools to
access areas of my unconscious mind and in so doing expose hidden layers of thought. When I'm beginning a new project I often have a starting point or a set of flexible guidelines to begin and then am free to improvise within that framework. I find that improvisation requires a lot of presence that I think helps bring energy and immediacy into a film. When I am making a work and from moment to moment I don't know whatâ€™s going to happen I like to think this energy is captured in the work and can be felt on some level by the viewer. When viewing film and video we are often in physically passive states and we know we are watching a screen with prerecorded images on it. So it is interesting for an artist to think about how they can convey a sense of spontaneity and liveliness through that flat screen. The use of long static shots reminds us of the films by Chantal Akerman, yet your filmmaking style is very far from what is generally considered academic. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work? I think that the absence of academia in my style is part choice and part experience. The fact that I have had no formal training in filmmaking and film analysis naturally gives way to a non-academic style but I also choose to work like this as I think it allows me to communicate to a wider audience. I also find it exciting working in an area that I am not fully comfortable in. There is a lot of room for experimentation and I enjoy the satisfaction that comes from teaching yourself. There are plenty of filmmakers and artists that have inspired me. Jan Ĺ vankmajer was one of the first animators I was influenced by. In particular, the depth of his imagination inspired me: the way he brings life and meaning to a piece of raw meat or a chair and creates extraordinary events with ordinary objects. Maya Deren's work was also among some of the first experimental cinema I saw that moved me. I always notice ingenious techniques when I watch her films, and feel like every creative choice is in service to her filmic ideas. Len Lye and Norman Mclaren were both animators who paid particular attention to sound/image relationships, In particular how the shapes and colour of images can be translated into rhythm and melody, which is something I also enjoy experimenting with in my work. Also, when I
saw Tarkovsky's Stalker, I noticed the potential of a slower paced form of cinema and was very taken by the contemplative long shots of nature and ruins in his films. I'm more impressed by artists with powerful imaginations who have managed to create art that has taken their field in a new direction, rather than who those stay within a current trend or style. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of Summon the Sun : how did you come up with the idea for this lyrical film? Most of my childhood was spent in the tropical parts of Australia where the changes between seasons are not very dramatic. But after living for a couple of years in Melbourne, which is further from the equator, I became much more sensitive to the changes in season and, like everybody else, would get excited by the first
signs of Spring. So my idea for 'Summon the Sun' came out of this newfound understanding of seasons and the effect that seasonal shifts have on people: how we tend to reflect emotionally the physical states of the seasons.
relationship between the formal properties of the image and your feelings, moods, and sensibilities. Can you comment on this aspect of your filmmaking?
My aim was to create a moving image poem that paid homage to the period of change between seasons. I was particularly interested in capturing the essence of transformation and musing on the different ways I could represent that state visually and sonically. For me transformation is represented by fluidity, chaos and energy amongst other things. To begin this film I brainstormed words that expressed the feelings of transformation and then created visual motifs that expressed those words. I decided to call it 'Summon the Sun' because the sun's warmth is what stirs life into existence.
As I am primarily concerned with translating feelings directly into moving images, my approach to filmmaking is largely intuitive. I choose to work in a non-narrative form because I feel that narratives would ultimately obstruct and detract from this translation. In conventional cinema the tools and techniques of film are used to serve the narrative, however in experimental cinema the techniques can be used in more inventive ways. There is a lot of room to build your own visual language and have a more direct relationship between the techniques and the ideas.
In Summon the Sun there is a direct
A couple of elements that I'm really quite conscious of are sound and editing. Other than
'What I Meant To Say', I have created all of the sounds in my films. I believe that sound has a lot of influence in the way we interpret an image, and I treat it with an equal importance to the visuals in my work. Editing can also play a big part in creating the overall world of the film and I use it to experiment with the rhythm and pacing of shots to create different intensities. The more films I make, the more conscious I become of the relationships between the formal and emotional properties of film and how technical aspects can be
creatively used to highlight or even create the moods. So far, I have been able to make all of my films entirely on my own and I think this plays a part in the overall ability to effectively communicate my initial ideas. There is no middleman, camera crew or budget constraints to get in the way of that. Thanks for sharing your time, Christina, we wish you all the best with your
filmmaker career. What's next for you? Have you a particular film in mind? Thank you very much for this wonderful experience. It has been a great opportunity to delve deeper into my work processes and I have gained a lot of insight through responding to your thoughtful questions. At this stage improvised performance and the medium of video are very new to me and making 'What I Meant to Say' really opened up a Pandora's box. I have already started a
couple of new video performances that came out of this project, which explore bodily movement and performance in different ways, and also experiment with editing techniques. I will definitely return to animation at some stage and when the time is right I would really like to make a larger work that combines elements of both animation and video performance.
An artist's statement
I wander around in my inner world. It is a universe of puppets , actors and comic characters. A shadowgirl escapes violently out of a glass laboratory-egg and experiences a suffocating memory off a roaming crowd. A detective is confronted with a morphing priestess and visits a to-
wer in the city to be incorparated in a meditation ritual. Scenes arise , evoke new scenes and become images in time. This is the basis for a film. I let scenes interact, rather then working on a specific plot or story. I want to convince with a strong sence of place. My film is a place where the spectator can roam.
Sije Kingma In our daily lives, the image is becoming more and more compulsory. A photo on the internet or smartphone wants to be seen. High end film techniques create a dream without leaving space for imagination. The image demands a one-sided interpretation. With
my film work, I try to state a different view. I want to hypnotize without being demanding and make way for association. An atmosphere where you can wander around, get away from and come back in. Sije Kingma Sije Kingma
An interview with
Sije Kingma We love artists crossing the boundaries of cinematic genres. Sije Kingma moves with complete ease between animated film and comic book. His experimental style merges different sensibilities, revealing a playful yet utterly subversive vision. Sije, we have been impressed by your baroque and surreal visual imagery. How did you get started in animation? Thank you so much! Although I started my first animation experiments during my studies at art school (from 2000 till 2005) , it began taking shape after I graduated. The medium has always interested me a lot but to create something coherent seemed like a huge effort. I simply did not know where to start. Back then, my focus lied more on creating short films and video's. I really got in to shooting and editing. Besides working with actors , I was already working with small sets and puppets so in a way there arose some kind of basis to get into the animation process. I enjoyed it a lot working with these small sets. With some cardboard, wood and paint I was able to create a blink of a universe that stood on it's own. There was a lot of control over the process and no hurry to finish some shooting schedule. I could just go with the flow and pick up the filming where I left of. There was room to experiment. I guess it triggered something that needed to be explored later on. After graduation I began working with different software and started a series of rigid 2D animations. At first, this was a practical decision. I did not have a very comfortable studio to work from and I was caught up in different jobs and projects to build up a professional practice. In between those projects, I would go and experiment behind my home computer. Then I got invited by the MAFF new media festival in 2009 to produce a short video-work. I immediately had the play of thought to do something with this 2D animation style. This resulted in the video Agent TAX (2009) https://vimeo.com/8516388 ), a chaotic collage
of images from the internet and existing comic characters, all supported by edited audio clips. With the presentation of Agent TAX, I felt that I produced something absolute. Animation seemed like a medium that could state the things I wanted. So step by step I learned about the processes involved and I tried to develop my own way of working with the medium. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Sinu2? Sinus 2: The Memory Machine (2014) is the second part of the Sinus Cycle, an experimental crossover between animation and comic book. Each part is presented separately and in a different set up. I started to examine this animation technique in creating Sinus 1: Prologue (2013 https://vimeo.com/68372093), the first part of the series. After producing several short films over the years, whether live action or animation, I felt that I needed some sort of project that could explore my (what I call) inner universe to a fuller extend. The previous projects made me experiment with different film- or animationtechniques but only showed a glimpse of the worlds or atmospheres where they came from. I was searching for a way to engage myself more in to the subversive universe. So I started dreaming about this dark city and the characters or archetypes that could live there. Then these rough charcoal background drawings came up and I felt that I needed to combine them with more worked out characters on the foreground. Then the whole comic idea came. Sinus 1 became a starting point to see how the technique would develop and what ideas or images I could come up with. When this became a finished short film, again it showed only a glimpse of this deeper atmosphere. But I could immediately feel that there was something bigger going on. I strongly felt that this technique and this atmosphere and it's characters needed a closer examination. So I tried to fully engage myself with this material and came up with more scenes. I also wanted to change the format in presentation. I felt that I needed to create some kind of space for the scenes where the spectator could wander through. Thus started the production of Sinus 2: The Memory Machine. This became a videoinstallation with three screens showing different scenes in a spatial setting. https://vimeo.com/106596865
A still from Sinus 2 - The Memory Machine
Your films feature unheimlich worlds inhabited by haunting memories and puppetlike figures: how did you develop your imagery? It is becoming more and more an inward journey to subconscious worlds and fantasies. Over the years I tried to rely on my intuition instead of working out cunning plots or statements. It all comes from this energy within. This inner universe draws heavily from genres in comics, movies and toys. The world within has a constant urge to get out. However, it doesn't tell me in what way or in which order. Solving this puzzle becomes the process of production of the video material. I try to either concentrate or dream in this world and trust the flow of images. When I start out with these projects it is not my deliberate intention to set this harsh environment. Although I come up with violent situations, for me, creating them, feels more like boys play. In my head or sketched out, the scenes don't seem that frightening. But once the actual animation process is starting I tend to make the scenes as powerful as I can. I strongly believe in this deep atmosphere to overwhelm or hypnotize the audience with. Since I don't work with carefully written plot lines or scripts I feel that the audience needs these powerful images to persuade them to wander further in this atmosphere. So this believe makes the images more intense. But because the films are a personal reflection and some kind of inner journey, it also feels like a reflection of my time and the world that I am living in. I am not trying to communicate a certain statement but the possibility that this inner reflection in a way states the tensions under the surface in todays society, adds some meaning to the piece. Animation is a long and hard process: realizing a work like Sirius2 is an incredible effort, no doubt. How long does it usually take to finish a piece? The production of Sinus 2 from start to finish took about 9 months on a basis of about three to four days a week. In the process I collaborate with different artists and assistants who help me to finish the piece. At first I draw up a basic storyboard. In this phase I try to fully engage myself to the material. I decide how
A still from Sinus 2 - The Memory Machine
the scenes will develop and how the images and panels will be put in different compositions. I also try to get a feel of the pacing of the animation and how certain movements will flow from one image to another. Based on the storyboard, comic artist Dennis St채bler created the artwork for Sinus 2. For the background I make big charcoal and ink drawings. In the end, all the different images go in to the computer and I begin an intense period of altering and animating all the images. The audio was done by Kasper van Hoek and Jan Klug, both experimental musicians.
Visual artist Bouke Groen assisted me in building the spatial set up. During the actual production period, I really enjoy these collaborations. It gives you new insights and fresh perspectives on your own work. This helps making the piece stronger. Your video production is very miscellaneous: how has your production processes changed over the years? I experimented a lot with different video techniques and platforms. Shooting, editing, VJ-ing,
spatial setups with different monitor screens, stop-motion, and digital animation. I have always liked this wide variety of techniques. In the end I am always working on a video so I can always pin things down on videoart. So, although I now focus on the development of this comic animation style, I still feel drawn to other video techniques. However, over the years I tried to find the best techniques for the projects that occur instead of just experimenting for the fun of it. I also need some form of analogue processes to add
A still from Sinus 2 - The Memory Machine
to the projects. The possibilities of digitally altering and exploring the images in todays software are endless. But in order to create I need to physically add something. This can be a puppet or a charcoal drawing or just shooting on a set. My body somehow needs to be engaged as well. Otherwise it is just my head and a computer. That doesn't feel so good. Letâ€™s speak about influences. Your works reminds us of the collaboration between Moebius and Jodorowsky. Have any vid-
eoartists from the older generation inspired you? I think it all began with filmmaker and artist David Lynch. I was 18 when I saw his film Eraserhead for the first time. I got completely caught up in this dark and dreamy world. Looking back, I guess that particular film showed me that film could be a medium for exploring personal ideas instead of being a medium for the entertainment that I was used to. Lynch is still a major source of inspiration. Ob-
tive process of creating a comic book where scenes come and go and become some sort of fluid within the narrative. It gives the spectator a lot of space to come up with their own stories or just start dreaming within this universe. I find that very powerful. The same goes for American writer Paul Auster. His slight surreal stories are places to wander. Between the lines there is some sort of hidden energy that you suck up once your start reading. It is so tender and light but in the meantime there can be a lot of tension and suspense. The work just flows. That is true craftsmanship. Within the videoart tradition, I do feel some connection with videoartists like Paul McCarthy and Matthew Barney, especially his Cremaster Cycle. Although their way of expressing themselves and their themes contrast a lot, they both have some filmic approach to the medium. They both tend to stage a fictional environment with dressed up characters. A world on it's own that reflects on the world of the spectator, so to speak. I share this same approach. Then there is also a major influence from certain cinema genres and filmmakers. I love to drown myself in the extraordinary imagery of 40's, 50's and 60's science fiction and horror. Especially the work of directors Mario Bava, Roger Corman and Terence Fisher. But also the more wayward sides of cinema from for instance the Quay Brothers and Jan Svankmayer. Thanks for sharing your time, Sije, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for you? Have you a particular film in mind? It was my pleasure. viously in the films he created but also his art and his findings about the creative process. He describes how ideas arise and take shape in this whole intuitive method. I feel very attached to that way of thinking. Moebius and Jodorowsky are definitely spot on! The universe that hey created in The Incal comic series is one that I keep on wanting to go back to. The Worlds of Edena series from Moebius is a huge inspiration as well. I admire the strength and confidence in the whole intui-
I am currently working on Sinus 3, the next part to the Sinus Cycle. It is still a pile of rough sketches and scribblings but to me it already shows the outline to a great new animation project. I have some thoughts to add an interactive element to this animation as well, but I feel I'm on thin ice with that technique. But I'm definitely looking in to it. First of, let me start wandering through the Sinus Universe and see how things flow from there.