Por José Sarmiento Hinojosa
The natural realm as a metaphor, or the presence of the verbal narration in a sort of proposition of first principles, are ever present in the work of British/Argentinian filmmaker Jessica Sarah Rinland, and Black Pond (2018) expands on these notions manifesting its presence in a common land in south England, again accompanied by experts -like marine biologists in the past-, in this case, members of the Natural History Society, who occupy the land and study the native insects. Language as narration, fiction, anthropology; this construction that encompasses the power of the spoken and written word and the power of images, brilliant and never ending rapports that shine a light over a unique voice in experimental cinema, a light akin to Black Pond’s first moments, the discovery in the dark, of a batrachian presence that inhabits some murky waters. Visibility, significant and significance, a communion with the land and its natural realm, and a connection with humanity is all part of the big canvas where Rinland delicately prints her ideas. It’s entomology, zoology, dendrology, botany, anthropology, linguistics, and then again, it’s all of this and none of those.
The patient activity of measuring, recollection, analysis, cohabitation with the natural world by this group of people seems to be a vital impulse driven by the necessity of documentation, of engraving this particular moment in existence of the planet, on carefully written notes, books on flowers, maps, measuring tapes and test tubes. It’s a communal work of trying to keep a snapshot of a particular era, in a particular land where nature is free to dwell on its own. Humanity it’s in symbiosis with its surroundings, and the open wings of a moth rest in the open hand of its researcher, as if his body was an extension of the landscape; another cut down tree, or another boulder, maybe. This common effort is a testimony in itself, but combined with the oral narration of the film, it becomes a double strategy that Rinland had already pursued in different short films like Y Berá: Aguas de Luz (2016) where language is also the protagonist of the movie itself, rendering its condition of documentary in 16mm to a different piece of moving image akin to a pulsing metaphor, a manifestation in the materic support of celluloid, a call to arms of sorts, the necessity of listening with our own eyes to achieve a further understanding.
Remarkable in its 42 minute run-time, Black Pond cements Rinland’s position as a visual narrator of this magnificent odyssey that is the natural world, and the meddling of mankind in its oral traditions and mere presence to form a new and unique creature.
Director: Jessica Sarah Rinland
16mm film digital transfer, 35mm film stills, Archive