Amnesiac on the Beach (2013)

By José Sarmiento Hinojosa

Dalibor Baric’s experimental animation cinema Works as a specters compartment: faceless creatures at the margin of the representation of reality, figures recreated by the process of découpé (or decollage, as mentioned by Antoni Pinent in his visit to Lima), manifestations of this “fetishization” of the uncanny valley1. Since Spectres of Veronica (2011) to The Horror of Dracula (2010), these characters make the visual interpretation restless; displace the comfort of the habitual to transform themselves in new meanings, new readings, new points of departure.

This re-assignation of the significant/meaning is what makes Baric’s work so attractive. As a digital artisan of found footage, the Serbian utilizes the technique of collage in all its dimensions: film, sound, text, etc. Taking elements from comic, 50’s pop films, biology illustrations, ghostly portraits, Baric takes the pulse of the latest digital techniques (appropriation of materials via Photoshop, sound mix in Fruity Loops) to appropriate and decontextualize, reorganizing a new biological apparatus where the after mentioned creatures become owners of such space. This new context generates a cosmos of new images and senses: from Cronenberg-ian body horror to the kaleidoscopic psychedelia; a work that is heavily inspired by the stream of consciousness and cut-out techniques of the most experimental works by J.G. Ballard and William Burroughs.

The final manifestation and misé in scene of this process is an activity of simulacra-inside-simulacra. The Serbian filmmaker utilizes the techniques associated to film manipulation, like scratching punch, aging, but not as matter of the own artistry associated to celluloid, but as a manipulated representation of the digital. In this way, a respect for decadence or an assimilation of the fleeing quality of film in a binary support is observed. Whether one considers that as a fake gesture, or just a gesture, the decomposed and deteriorated quality of Baric’s work isn’t gratuitous, this responds to a whole aesthetic that programs a system of past configurations, an apparatus of nostalgia or the vintage, present in all his short films, but specially visible in works as My game of Longing (2014).

Baric deserves especial recognition among the new avant-garde artists, not only for his gesture of digital/analogue simulacra or the re-signification of collage and cut-out, since all this techniques finally offer us a film corpus where the psychedelic and the spectral are manifests in films charged with empty spaces that show themselves within other spaces, of mythical animals assembled as virtual totems, of human body manuals that indicate us the personal world of his characters. Baric is a ghostly puppet master, the digital manipulator of a universe that looks inside itself in an analogical way.

1Mentioned by Baric himself, the “uncanny valley” is a hypothesis in the field of robotics and computer animation that affirms that when the anthropomorphic replicas are excessively near to the appearance and behavior of a human, they generates a rejection response among the human spectators. This “valley” is an inclination in a graphic proposed, that measures the reaction’s positivity with the people according to the robot human likeness.