Program Diary 1: Mutating Rituals and Barking in the Dark: 13th 25 FPS Competition

Ever since it silently flickered in a noisy Parisian café in 1895, subsequently uniting the wet dreams of technological innovators, enthusiastic explorers of the possibilities of the new medium, marketing experts and audience enthralled with the coming attraction of 'reality brought to life', film, among other things, became a testament of the human need to connect, command and communicate with inanimate entities. 

Out of this need, the bumpy evolutionary flow engendered all the film conventions, from productive and artistic, to screening and distribution, to consumerist. By producing cinema, we examine expressive means and concepts beyond words, images and sounds, simply to convey the desired emotion impressively and leave an imprint on the audience. When watching a film, we contentedly nod, we fidget in our seats, or we puff and roll our eyes, depending on how much we like the discourse the film is using to convey the message. Our expectations are failed if the film does not obey the communication codes, we feel suffocated if it is not laden with information, we need important things to be specially emphasised, we lose focus if we aren't glued to the seat by the pace… All in all, a cinema screen, an LCD monitor, a laptop screen – diverse membranes through which a cinematic piece finds its way to its audience – are being assaulted round the clock by different forces. Granted a little slide into abstraction, we might claim that a cinematic piece encompasses more or less the same processes we encounter in everyday communication.

Stripping the communication conventions on the film-audience line is a fruitful breeding soil self-indulgently ploughed by the fans and practitioners of experimental film for a century and a half. New formats, new subject matters, new identities, new structures, new spectacles, new 'realities' – but all backed by the same human pathology, since everything surrounding us and what we are aware of passes through the filter of our need to connect with it. The films included in the competition of this year's, 13th edition of 25 FPS Festival, are characteristically scattered across the entire slippery spectrum of what we are trying to define as experimental film – but almost all of them more or less orbit around this central subject.

Raw pixels zombie around the retro-cyber-noir imagery full of wires and pipes, nano- and micro-chips and hilariously deafening computer interfaces, reminding us of the times when internet pilgrimages were a visual counterpart to tripping on the country fair carousel (20160815). A moment later, savage HD space distortions (#67), musical YouTube dogs and frenetically smudged swipe-screens (See a Dog, Hear a Dog) remind us that they still are, as much as the wonders of compression and a need for a more immediate ('real'?) data processing are trying to prove otherwise. Something primordial is winking from the depths of our collective unconsciousness – as though the naïve trust in the reality of an analogue record has bit us in the ass now in the digital era. Cinema anthropology is fake and truth should be sought beyond the registered scene (The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy), in virtual simulations (Another Planet), forensic analyses of sound records (Rubber Coated Steel), dissections of geographic topoi and creation of 'spectacular realities' (The Watchmen), either digitally (Meridian Plain) or by compressing enormous vastness into an intimate transhistorical collage (025 Sunset Red), or simply by parading the streets of Brazil with a green man-size screen (Green Screen Gringo).

Reducing and interweaving it all into unfinished or abstract patterns (Peripheria, Trip), immersing into a realm of shadows or communicating with darkness (Shadow-Machine), hypertrophied blow-up (Explosion Ma Baby, keep that dream burning), letting go to metamorphous space and blending with it (Pattern Language) takes us to a new question – how far can/should things go before they turn into mere chaos? Structure becomes a living body, feeding on the viewer's pathology and capturing it in an endless dungeon. Before we started to realise what this, in fact, means, an elegant dance of multiplied exposures and multi-screen projections (Framelines, upCycles) hypnotically squeaks and bursts, testifying that chaos is nothing but a bunch of small elaborate units. Who needs questions and answers when we have fireworks? Perhaps the inanimate Pinocchio wanted to become 'a real boy' only because he had a piece of wood instead of a brain and didn't know what he really wanted (The Peacekeeper).

Finally, we are all equal in the eyes of machines. But this does not prevent us from emotionally attaching to them, baby-talk to them or yell at them when we think they have let us down. Is there room for us in the 'world after HD resolution', or will we all finally burst into bunches of pixels, it remains to be seen. Until then, we will continue to stare into a screen with a piece of blank paper swaying before the lens (Foyer), aware that we are looking at a membrane through which some other world is staring back at us. We will realise that film – just like music (La Bouche) – is a communication medium with intangible entities and that the deafening polyphony awaiting us at SC Cinema also hides the frequencies tailor-made to suit the needs of every curious receptor.

Danijel Brlas