Saturday on display

Jury's Choice by Deborah Stratman at 16, two competitions at 18 and 20, and Rattling the Bones, take 2 by Bruce McClure. 

Saturday, the best day of the week to cut down trees, or at least for a peaceful contemplation on the politics of sonic identity and unobserved existence. The sounds of falling trees, sparking imagination of empirical philosophers, foresters and environmental enthusiasts for centuries, are an important component in Deborah Stratman’s ‘political landscape’ oeuvre, including her audiovisual compilation Sticky Refrains, scheduled for today. Here we’re only taking metaphors, of course – no tree was harmed in the making of Stratman’s programme – but her selection says quite a lot about social and political codes one falling tree must satisfy to even be perceived as a falling tree. Language is dissolved into persistent repetition of individual phrases to the level of nonsense (The Last Words, W. Herzog), a synchronous variable in the message transfer process (Dubbing, Ehmann & H. Farocki), a means to spark imagination and creation/perception of narrative (Ears, Nose and Throat, K.J. Everson), while a banal argument between two students becomes a hostage of a curious demonic session arranged by Hollis Frampton (Critical Mass). These and many other things, plus Marina Kos’s one-minute battle with an inexorable natural setting which will break your heart (Lightning).

Hans Richter’s DADA classic Ghosts Before Breakfast, about the crisis of ‘ordinariness’ and rebellion against everyday life is a prelude to the first competition slot, Scales. Under the influence of both manmade both natural factors, the ecosystem mutates, but does not continue to grow organically. Rather, it self-destroys (An Aviation Field, J. Pimenta) – reflecting moving bodies vary from natural to jewellery in a growingly psychedelic prismatic play (Something Between Us, Mack), a man without a face, a member of the notorious Japanese hikikomori trend, alienates from the society but keeps sending letters about his relationship with a potato (Jagata, D. Jacoby), and sculptures mediated by light and shadow, frame and silence, become a mirror of the cinema audience (As Without So Within, De Laborde).

A grain of salt on the film tape announces a return to reason in the namesake film by Man Ray, the founder of Dada movement, which means that the claim from the beginning of the sentence is completely incorrect. Competition continues with Charts: cinema meets photo-chemistry – we see how film is made through the process of growing and processing a vegetal species from the genus of Anacardiaceae (Rhus Typhina, A. Moralesová, G. Bagdasarov); a film screening deceives us, it stroboscopically overburdens our senses and makes us create phantom mental images, i.e. ‘nothing’ out of ‘nothing’ (Not Even Nothing Can Be Free of Ghosts, R. Kohlberger); a film crew conducts a research on Mayan ruins replicas, since the real ones were destroyed in previous researches (Ciudad Maya, A. Padilla Domene). 489 Years (H. Kwon) takes us to a demilitarised zone in South Korea, a place where entrance is forbidden and where nature took back the reins; however, instead of an idyllic pastoral, we get a glitch testament on the impossibility of symbiosis between men and… well, anything, for that matter. His majesty The Mess (P. Burr) follows up on this post-apocalyptic wasteland sentiment and portrays a space structured to the principles of ‘eternal dungeon’, an endlessly mutating, regenerating labyrinth of death.

After these powerful visions of hopelessness, hop off to the French Pavilion and gab some audiovisual therapy from doctor McClure! Doctors orders!

Danijel Brlas