By Mónica Delgado
As in Gradual Speed, of of his latest works, the artist and filmmaker Els van Riel explores the diverse mechanisms of light as a physical and optical effect, in its specificity and materiality. In her Fugue, a Light’s Travelogue (Belgium, 2017), presented in Media City Film Festival, she elaborates a proposal of a story of light from its reverse, the phantasmagoric effect of shadows, light games and ghosts that surge from the darkness.
In this proposal Els van Riel constructs a new history on light as a phenomenon of perception but also as an energy form, through the support of different historical characters, in a gallery of intermittences and superpositions where illustrations of Muslin astronomer Alhancen, scientist Thomas Young, Medeleyev, Max Plank, and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin can be seen. Many of these images are fusioned with diverse franc-masonic icons, in a game of counterpoints and juxtapositions to illustrate questions of power that validates this knowledge, from obscurantism, the elites or the cryptic.
The filmmaker achieves to compose, through the evocation of these characters of sciences and physics, a new rhythm with new sonic layers, of different objects that move, or voices, like Gregorian chants, that exert an hypnotic influx to this new historiography of projection’s magic. But the layers of Fugue, A Light’s Travelogue, escape the sonic realm and expand under the idea of a great permanent zoom of 28 minutes, that allows the exploration of space, precisely from the phantasmagoric feat that the projection allows from this new study or essay of light from the cinematic realm.
The film starts from the specificity of the projecting act in itself to slowly widen it to surpass the margins of the silver screen and the usual framing, leaving evidence that the idea and artifact of light effect is also a matter of contexts, structures and spaces. If Van Riel projects her new history of illumination, she also evidences the dispositif that has been protagonist in this experimentation, moving away from the intervention of the support to deepen her look in the mechanic of illumination and its variants, from the point of view of the observer, who approximates and moves back, and who configures significants from shadows and the magic of the projection.
A Light’s Travelogue
INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION 3
Artist: Els van Riel
Music: Stevie Wishart
Duration: 27 min