Branding a Film Experiment / Experimenting with a Film Brand

This year’s edition of Odes to Film, with a film screened before each competition program, glorifies the magical symbiosis of original experiment and promotional material. Although at first we would not want to leave them alone in a dark room with sharp objects, the experimental and the commercial often proved good comrades in the audiovisual media domain, and their interactions often yielded impressive and hilarious results.

A cigarette reduced to a geometric form against a black background worked brilliantly at the time when things did not have to fall out of someone’s cleavage to be hypnotic and attractive; a little Mozart and stop motion sufficed. On the other hand, aside from being a commercial for cigarettes, Muratti Privat by the self-proclaimed musicographer Oskar Fischinger is a full-blooded and attractive portrayal of the original term ‘music for the eyes’.

Sublimation of a commercial function by abstracting the advertised object was in the 1950s also the focus of the great filmmaker Len Lye. A meeting point between documentary and experimental film, made as a promotional film for Chrysler, Rhythm is a prototype of his concept of body in motion. The motion cannot be reduced to visual patterns, but rather springs from the kinetics of the body’s very own rhythm. The rhythmic jump-cuts accompanied by African percussions build a dynamic representation of assembly-line production physicality. Good people of Chrysler notoriously frowned upon the result, but the world of film got another fidgety masterpiece, independently of the production method.

Promo-films and film festival and exhibition trailers are a somewhat more obvious and natural breeding soils for art experiments. A great cinematographer and one of the most creative (and, sadly, underestimated) envoys of German film expressionism, Guido Seeber made for the Berlin Exhibition of Film and Photography a hyped miniature amusement park (KIPHO) and historically introduced the film avant-garde to the scene of all the public city events. Our dear guest Peter Tscherkassky made a fantastic one-minute recycled action thriller Get Ready as a trailer for the Viennale International Film Festival.

Twelve Tales Told by Johann Lurf creates a film space out of logos of a dozen Hollywood production companies fighting for history, screaming and stuttering in a harmony of corporate greed. Among these, Lurf’s film is the only one made without a large company’s sponsorship, but his equally compact and playful form is an ode to corporate cowboys and their frenzied brandishing with a poker against the vast illusory ranch we call Hollywood. Corporate brands and accompanying logos are not related exclusively to film production; rather, their repetitiveness, loud music and artificial landscapes have a great impact on our own consumer cinephile imagery.

Danijel Brlas